Vermiculated Screech Owl (Megascops vermiculatus)

Vermiculated Screech Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Megascops vermiculatus | [authority] Ridgway, 1887 | [UK] Vermiculated Screech Owl | [FR] Petit duc vermicule | [DE] Banderkreischeule | [ES] Autillo Vermiculado | [NL] Roodwangschreeuwuil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Megascops vermiculatus LA Costa Rica to nw Colombia and n Venezuela


The genus Megascops comprises 22 living species are known at present, but new ones are frequently recognized and unknown ones are still being discovered on a regular basis, especially in the Andes. For most of the 20th century, this genus was merged with the Old World scops-owls in Otus, but nowadays it is again considered separate based on a range of behavioral, biogeographical, morphological and DNA sequence data. Screech-owls are restricted to the Americas. Some species formerly placed with them are nowadays considered more distinct.
As usual for owls, female screech-owls are usually larger and fatter than the males of their species, with owls of both sexes being compact in size, shape, and height. The Eastern Screech-owl Megascops asio is one of the smallest species of owls in North America. All of the birds in this genus are small and agile. Screech-owls are generally colored in various brownish hues with usually a whitish, patterned underside, which helps to camouflage them against the bark of trees. Some are polymorphic, occurring in a grayish- and a reddish-brown morph.

Physical charateristics

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.

Listen to the sound of Vermiculated Screech Owl

[audio: Screech Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 23 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 37 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Latin America : Costa Rica to Northwest Colombia and North Venezuela


Inhabits humid tropical forests in lowlands and foothills up to 1200m


They nest in old tree cavities or old nests of other birds (documented in an old trogon nest) laying 2-3 eggs. Incubation is done primarily by the female from 26 – 37 days. Due to the fact that incubation starts after the first egg is layed, owlet nestmates may differ a lot in size and age. When food resources are scarce the older larger chicks may devour their younger siblings.

Feeding habits

The Vermiculated Screech Owl eats mainly insects such as katydids and beetles. All the flesh is digested and all the indigestible parts (bones, hair, or in this case, the exoskeletons of insects) are formed into pellet castings and regurgitated. They also have a reversible outer toe helping them to grasp prey.

Video Vermiculated Screech Owl


copyright: Scott Olmstead


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern
Vermiculated Screech Owl status Least Concern


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Vermiculated Screech Owl distribution range map

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