Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Vermiculated Screech-owl (Otus vermiculatus)


French: Petit-duc vermiculé German: Bänderkreischeule Spanish: Autillo Vermiculado

Megascops vermiculatus


, 1887,

Costa Rica

The taxonomy presently employed in HBW Alive is identical to that of the HBW volumes but will change automatically following the publication, planned for August 2014, of the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, to which all HBW Alive treatments of taxonomy and classification will be permanently linked. It will be possible to compare any taxonomic changes with the original HBW treatment, since this will remain available in HBW Alive.

Perhaps a member of a superspecies, along with O. guatemalae, O. hoyi, O. atricapillus and O. sanctaecatarinae. Sometimes considered conspecific with O. guatemalae, but vocally distinct. Isolated races roraimae and napensis possibly separate species; further study needed. Additional races described from Peru (helleri) and Bolivia (bolivianus) here merged with napensis, but possibly merit subspecific recognition. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
O. v. vermiculatus (Ridgway, 1887) - NE Costa Rica to NW Colombia, N Venezuela.
O. v. roraimae (Salvin, 1897) - S Venezuela and N Brazil (mountain regions of Roraima, Duida and Neblina).
O. v. napensis Chapman, 1928 - E Ecuador to Peru, and N Bolivia.

Descriptive notes

20–23 cm; c. 100–110 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, W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P. & Wood, K.L. (1999). Vermiculated Screech-owl (Otus vermiculatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2013). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 August 2014).