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Stygian Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

 The Stygian Owl of Central and South America is closely related to the North American Long-eared Owl.  Here you can find photos and information to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. The Field Notes section includes a Central American range map and information on nesting, habitat, description and identification.  To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below.

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Field Notes and Range Map 


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Stygian Owl Photo


Stygian Owl Photo

Volcán de Fuego
Jalisco, Mexico
March 2002
Sonora, Mexico
May 2012

Stygian Owl Photo


Stygian Owl Photo

Sonora, Mexico
May 2012
Sonora, Mexico
May 2012

FIELD NOTES and Range Map
Stygian Owl - Asio stygius

Range Map  
The Stygian Owl is a medium size owl (15-17 in. in length). It is closely related to the Long-eared Owl, although much darker and bulkier. It has very conspicuous ear tufts and its whitish forehead contrasts with its blackish facial disks. It is dark blackish brown overall on its upper parts with some sparse buff spotting or barring. Its underside (chest, stomach... et. ) is buff with prominent dark brown baring. It has orange eyes (iris) and a black bill. This is a very sought after owl in Mexico although only irregularly found in it's well known "hoots" (nesting locations).

 The Stygian Owl inhabits humid to semiarid pine and pine oak forests. It can be found from sea level to the forests at almost 10,000 ft. (3000 m) in elevation.  In Mexico, it is generally considered a montane species and found above 5000 ft (1500 m) although it can be found at sea level in Belize. It is also considered a fairly common to common species of owl in proper habitat in some parts of its range.

 The Stygian Owl is strictly nocturnal (active only at night) and feeds mainly on small vertebrates and mammals such as rodents, bats, birds, and reptiles. Also will feed on crustaceans and insects too. Generally roosts and calls from the mid to upper tree levels.

 There are six recognized races of the Stygian Owl of which only two are found in Central America, two in the islands of the Caribbean and two in South America. A. s. lambi inhabits the mountains of Western Mexico from S.W. Chihuahua to Jalisco. A. s. robustus is found discontinuously from Southern Mexico in Guerro and Veracruz to N.w. Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador. A. s. siguapa and A. s. noctipetens are the Caribbean races found in Cuba and the islands. A. s. stygius and A. s. barberoi are the South American races found from N. Brazil to N. Argentina.

 Nesting season begins in November and extends through May. The Stygian Owl although generally thought to use stick nests built by other birds has even been found (in the Caribbean) nesting on the ground in shredded palm leaves. Generally lays two eggs.

 In N.W. Mexico it has a single deep emphatic woof (hoot) that it repeats every 6-10 seconds. In Belize a softer, slightly higher woof (hoot) is repeated every 4-5 seconds. The female has a short cat-like "miah" or screamed "rre-ehhr" when calling to the male.

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