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VERMICULATED SCREECH OWL } Megascops guatemalae

RANGE: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela

STATUS: The status of this owl is uncertain; BirdLife International lists it as Common to Fairly Common within its range, while NatureServe ranks it as Apparently Secure.

THREATS: Unknown

The striking vermiculated screech owl is still somewhat common throughout much of its range in Central and South America. These owls are about 8.5 inches in length, with kaleidoscopic patterns in their breast plumage. They are strictly nocturnal. They make explosive insect-catching flights from thick scrubby areas and forest edges, feeding mostly on large insects, but may also take lizards, frogs, and small mammals. Vermiculated screeches prefer dense low- to mid-elevation, semiarid evergreen forests, humid lowlands, and dry thorn forests. Their status is uncertain, but there is evidence of a global population decline.

Photo © Russ Kumai