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

 The Bearded Screech-Owl has one of the most restricted ranges in Central America. It comes in both rufous (red) and brown (gray) morphs.  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.

Page Jump Links:
Photo Gallery
Additional photos
Audio Recordings
Field Notes and Range Map 

 

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

Bearded Screech-Owl Photo

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Bearded Screech-Owl Photo

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Bearded Screech-Owl Photo

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Huitepec Biological Reserve,
Chiapas, Mexico
2001

Huitepec Biological Reserve,
Chiapas, Mexico
2001
Ocosingo Hwy,
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002

Bearded Screech-Owl Photo

64K

Bearded Screech-Owl Photo

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Bearded Screech-Owl Photo

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Huitepec Biological Reserve,
Chiapas, Mexico
2001
Ocosingo Hwy,
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002
Huitepec Biological Reserve,
Chiapas, Mexico
March 2002

Additional Photos

Photo 1
64K

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

Sound File
46K
San Cristobal area, Mexico
March 2002

Sound File
47K
San Cristobal area, Mexico
March 2002

This is a commonly heard single note location call.

This is the primary territorial call that is most commonly heard in the field.

FIELD NOTES and Range Map
Bearded Screech-Owl - Megascops (Otus) barbarus

Range Map  
The Bearded Screech is a small Screech-Owl (6 1/4 - 7 1/2 in. in length which is roughly between the size of a House Sparrow and a Bluebird).

 It inhabits humid Pine/Oak forests and cloudforests from about 5,000 to 8,000 ft. in elevation (mostly above 6000 ft.). It calls from the middle to upper tree levels and like the Vermiculated Screech-Owl can be very difficult to locate.

 Like all screech-owls the Bearded Screech is strictly nocturnal (active only at night). It feeds mainly on large insects although most screech-owls will probably also take some small vertebrates.

 There is only one race of Bearded Screech and its range is restricted to a small region of Chiapas in Southern Mexico and the mountains of Guatemala.  It is a resident owl and there are no known movements other than juvenal dispersals.

 Although nesting is undescribed... by our photos here on Owling.com, it is clear that tree cavities are certainly a nesting possibility. Nests are believed to generally have 5 to 6 eggs.

 The most apparent characteristics of the Bearded Screech-Owl are first its unfeathered bright pinkish colored feet then its small ear tufts and wings that project below its short tail (clearly visible when the owl is perched). Like most  screech-owls it has bright lemon yellow iris (eyes) and a yellowish to gray bill with a yellow to horn colored tip. It is a dimorphic owl meaning that it occurs in two distinct color phases, rufous and brown (the Eastern Screech is also dimorphic). The pattern of its plumage is similar to the other screech-owls.

 It has a very soft "toot" or "hu" almost reminiscent of a very soft pygmy-owl call with the notes repeated at about 2-3 second intervals. This soft "hu" is very ventriloquial and can be very hard to locate. It also has a little bolder, fast 3-5 second trill that increases in volume and at times drops abruptly at the end.

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