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

The Guatemalan Screech-Owl is grouped by some authors together with the Vermiculated Screech-Owl. We believe that this is an improper classification and further studies will clearly separate these owls. Here you can find photos, recordings and information to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. The Field Notes section includes a North and 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 

 

Streaming Real Video Clips

Guatemalan Screech-Owl
Panuco Rd
Sinaloa, Mexico


 

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

Guatemalan Screech-Owl Photo

59K

Guatemalan Screech-Owl Photo

72K

Guatemalan Screech-Owl Photo

111K

Panuco Rd. off
Durango Hwy, Mexico
June 2001

Panuco Rd. off
Durango Hwy, Mexico
June 2001
Panuco Rd. off
Durango Hwy, Mexico
June 2001

Guatemalan Screech-Owl Photo

53K
 

Guatemalan Screech-Owl Photo

103K
Panuco Rd. off
Durango Hwy, Mexico
June 2001

Panuco Rd. off
Durango Hwy, Mexico
June 2001

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

Sound File
37K
Panuco Rd. off
Durango Hwy, Mexico
June 2001

Sound File
145K
Panuco Rd. off
Durango Hwy, Mexico
June 2001

 These are primary territorial calls in different lengths given by different individuals. This is to show both how the calls can not only vary in length but also in tone within one set or trill (see the field notes below for more details).

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

Guatemalan Screech-Owl Range Map The Guatemalan Screech-Owl has previously been grouped together as a race of the Vermiculated Screech-Owl (Megascops vermiculatus) although it has differences in behavior, vocalizations, and appearance. Research in Central America is needed and we see obvious classification clearifications and DNA analysis needed in some of the Central American owls. This is a certain candidate and we have made this division here, as many other authors have.

The Guatemalan Screech-Owl, like most screech-owls, is strictly nocturnal. It is very similar to the North American Screech-Owls in size and appearance. Length is about 8 1/2" (about the size of a Red-winged Blackbird). Its under parts have streaking and fine crossbars that are not as bold as with other North American screech-owls. It has a dark brown coloration (rufous morphs occur also); yellow iris (eyes); gray to greenish yellow bill and noticeable white eyebrows.
 Its range overlaps with the North American screech-owls but it has a distinctive call. It is a common to fairly common owl within its range that extends from southern Sonora south to Oaxaca, Mexico in the west and Tamaulipas, Mexico south to northern Nicaragua in the east. Its range is geographically distinct from the Vermiculated Screech-Owl, is feathered on its tarsus (lower leg above feet), and is much more secretive in its behavior. It inhabits low to middle elevation (sea level to 4500 ft), semiarid evergreen forests to humid lowland to dry thorn forests. It has a soft call that carries well and can be deceiving. It also prefers a dense habitat and can be very hard to locate. The call is given in sets of very rapid notes (trill) that last usually from 3 to 15 seconds. The call starts low in pitch, goes up, and then abruptly ends (or may waver waver up and down in tone within the trill). These sets are generally spaced about 5-7 seconds apart (maybe much longer). Because of its close physical appearance and overlapping range it is best to confirm this owl's identification by call.
 The Guatemalan Screech-Owl usually nests in March and April and has 2 to 5 eggs (normally 3).  It responds well to play backs or imitated calls but can often be seen making insect catching flights from thick scrubby areas and forest edges. It feeds mostly on large insects but may also take lizards, frogs and small mammals.

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