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Vermiculated Screech-Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

The Vermiculated Screech-Owl is sometimes grouped as a subspecies of Guatemalan Screech-Owl although it is distinct in call, markings, range, and behavior. Further studies need to be conducted and DNA analysis performed although classic species determinations certainly qualify this as its own species. We consider this division here at owling.com to be valid and pending further research have adopted, as have many other authorities, the classification of this owl to be separate. You will find photos, recordings below and the Field Notes section below.Included in the Field Notes section is 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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Photo Gallery
Audio Recordings
Field Notes and Range Map 

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Click on the thumbnail to bring up each of the Owl photos.

Vermiculated Screech-Owl Photo

229K
 

Vermiculated Screech-Owl Photo

190K

La Selva Biological Station,
Costa Rica - April 2011

 

Veragua,
Costa Rica - March 2011

Vermiculated Screech-Owl Photo

166K

Vermiculated Screech-Owl Photo

146K

Vermiculated Screech-Owl Photo

160K

Veragua,
Costa Rica - March 2011

La Selva Biological Station,
Costa Rica - April 2008

La Selva Biological Station,
Costa Rica - March 2008

RECORDINGS
Click on the sonograms to bring up each of the recordings.

Sound File
49K
La Selva Biological Reserve ,
Costa Rica
March 2011

 

Sound File
102K
La Selva Biological Reserve ,
Costa Rica
March 2011

This is a short contact call uttered by both sexes. It is sometimes written as "ghoor".   This is the territorial song song that is often described as a soft purring trill.

FIELD NOTES and Range Map
Vermiculated Screech-Owl - Megascops (Otus) vermiculatus

Vermiculated Screech-Owl Range Map The Vermiculated Screech-Owl is sometimes considered conspecific with M. guatemalae (Guatemalan Screech-Owl) although it is vocally, visually, and behaviorly distinct and lacks feathering on lower tarsus. Length is about 8 1/2" (about the size of a Red-winged Blackbird). Its under parts are densly and uniformly streaked with fine crossbars. It is found in both rufus and brown morphs., It has a medium brown coloration (rufous morphs occur also); yellow iris (eyes); greenish yellow bill, darker brown forehead streaking, and very indistinct white eyebrows.
 Its range is separated from the Guatemalan Screech-Owl and no known overlap occurs. Central American Vemiculan Screech-Owl known from extream SE Nicaragua and NE Costa Rica south to NW Columbia and and Northern Venezula. Two other races inhabit South America (again further studies needed).

Inhabits humid tropical forests in lowlands and foothills up to 3300 feet. Feeds mainly on insects although probably also some small vertebrates. No know movements and is generally thought to be sedentary within its established range. Male and female share adjescent territory.

Nests in tree cavity or old nest hole of other bird (docummented in old Trogan nest cavity). Lays two to three eggs in March to April. Although it is not known to be threatened it needs almost solid forest and forest destruction may prove to be a threat in the long term.

Its primary call has been described as being a long, somewhat toadlike trill. It also has a shorter vocalization that is thought to have a contact function that is described as a scratchy, sibilant ghoor or khooo.

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