Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Vermiculated Screech-owl (Megascops vermiculatus)


French: Petit-duc vermiculé German: Bänderkreischeule Spanish: Autillo vermiculado
Other common names: Foothill Screech-owl (roraimae, including napensis), Chocó Screech-owl (“centralis”)

Megascops vermiculatus


, 1887,

Costa Rica


Perhaps a member of the putative species-group centred on M. atricapilla (which see). Sometimes considered conspecific with M. guatemalae, but vocally distinct. Isolated races roraimae and napensis may constitute two separate species; a recent treatment as such#R#R, however, failed to provide comparisons involving all three taxa, so that claimed morphological and vocal distinctiveness of each is impossible to judge. Additional forms described from Peru (helleri) and Bolivia (bolivianus) here merged with napensis, but may merit subspecific recognition. Form centralis, here included in nominate vermiculatus, is sometimes recognized as separate species (range Panama to SW Ecuador) “based primarily on its distinctive voice”#R; further investigation needed. Form inexpectus (Costa Rica) included in nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. v. vermiculatus Ridgway, 1887 – Vermiculated Screech-owl – NE Costa Rica to W Colombia and W Ecuador, and E through N Venezuela.
  • M. v. roraimae (Salvin, 1897) – Roraima Screech-owl – S Venezuela (tepuis and mountains) and N Brazil (mountain regions of Roraima), also locally in Guyana and Suriname.
  • M. v. napensis Chapman, 1928 – Napo Screech-owl – E Ecuador to Peru, and N Bolivia.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 91–128 g. Occurs in brown and rufous morphs. Brown morph with facial disc light brown with thin dark rings, indistinct border, pale eyebrows obscure;... read more


    Primary song very fast, long, toad-like trill, starting softly, becoming louder, then dropping in... read more


    Humid tropical forest in lowlands and foothills, to c. 1200 m. Race roraimae inhabits... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly large insects; probably also some small vertebrates.


    Lays during Mar in N. Nest in natural tree cavity or old nest hole of other bird. 3 eggs.



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Needs almost solid forest. Very little information; possibly not rare locally. Has been recorded at Finca La Selva, on the Caribbean... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. & Kirwan, G.M. (2017). Vermiculated Screech-owl (Megascops vermiculatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 June 2017).