Whiskered Screech Owl - Megascops trichopsis
Formerly Otus trichopsis
Calls - Megascops trichopsis
Introduction: The Whiskered Screech Owl is a small screech owl with small ear-tufts. It occurs in a grey and red morph, with the red morph being more common in the south of its range. It has also been called the Spotted Screech Owl.
[For help with terms used in the description, see parts of an owl. For general characteristics common to most owl species, see owl physiology.]
Description: Grey Morph: The facial disc is light greyish, with indistinct darker concentric
lines around the relatively large, yellow eyes. It has a distinct blackish rim. There are long, wispy
whiskers at the base of the beak. Cere and beak are dark grey. Ear-tufts are short, and only prominent when
Upperparts are greyish to brownish grey with blackish shaft-streaks and dark
horizontal branches, also with fine wavy patterns. The crown and back have broad
blackish shaft-streaks and dark vermiculations. Scapulars have white outer webs
with blackish edges, forming a white line across the shoulder. Wings and tail
feathers are barred light and dark. Underparts are lighter than the upperparts,
with broad, blackish shaft-streaks, especially on the upper breast.
Legs are feathered to the base of the bristled, greyish-brown toes. Talons are
greyish-horn with darker tips.
Red Morph: Similar to grey morph but less prominently patterned, and with
general colouration rufous.
Size: Length 16.5-19cm. Wing length 132-160mm.
Tail length 62-79mm. Weight 70-121g. Females are heavier than males.
Habits: Nocturnal. Shelters during the day close to a tree
trunk or in dense foliage.
Voice: A-song is a series of equally spaced hoots bububububububub,
mostly with emphasis on the third note, slightly falling in pitch at the end.
B-song is a hollow hooting, often uttered in duet with female: bububup,
buru-bububup, similar to morse-code. The female's voice is slightly higher
Hunting & Food: Preys mainly on insects and other
arthropods, such as grasshoppers, locusts, praying mantises, crickets, beetles,
moths, spiders and caterpillars. Will also take small vertebrates. Hunts insects
by foraging between branches, less frequently from a perch.
Breeding: Little known. Nests in natural cavity, mostly
abandoned woodpecker holes. 3-4 white eggs (average 33x27.6mm) are laid and
incubated by the female alone. This probably happens during April. Male brings
food to the nest during this time. After the young have hatched, the female
shares the hunting. These birds are apparently very territorial, with
territories averaging about 300 metres in diameter.
Habitat: Mountain forest (pine-oak woodland) from 750 - 2500
metres, usually above 1600 m.
Distribution: South east Arizona through Mexico to
Distribution of the Whiskered Screech Owl Megascops trichopsis
Status: Locally frequent.
Original Description: Wagler, Johann Georg. 1832. Isis von Oken, 25, col. 276-277.
M. t. trichopsis,
M. t. aspersus,
M. t. mesamericanus
Page compiled by Deane Lewis. Page last updated 2013-07-24
OwlPages.com Owl Species ID: 040.060.000