New World OWLS

Order Strigiformes Family Strigidae

Owls are found on all continents except Antarctica. Owls are divided into two families: the typical owls, Strigidae; and the barn-owls, Tytonidae. They range in size from 13-70 cm. Owls do not construct nests, but rather look for a sheltered nesting site or an abandoned nest in trees, underground burrows, or in buildings, barns and caves.

Owls are solitary and nocturnal. They hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds though a few species specialize in hunting fish. Most hunt for prey only in the darkness. Much of the owls' hunting strategy depends on stealth and surprise. They are very quiet in flight plus they have dull colors. Owls have large forward-facing eyes and ear-holes, a hawk-like beak, a flat face, and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye. The facial disc helps to funnel the sound of prey to their ears. Although owls have binocular vision, their large eyes are fixed in their sockets, as with other birds, and they must turn their entire head to change views. Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees in either direction. The female is usually larger than the male.

Owl species can be found on these web pages:
New World Owls, Old World OwlsOwl_Pacific, Barn Owls, Eagle-Owls, Pygmy-Owls, Scops-Owls


Genus Aegolius
Aegolius owls are small, dumpy, short tailed and broad winged, with large round facial discs. They are dark brown or black above, and whitish or buff below. The head is large, with yellow eyes and a well-defined facial disc. The flight is strong, agile and direct.
They are found mainly in the New World. The Boreal Owl is also found in Europe and Asia.

Owl, Boreal also Tengmalm's Owl  Aegolius funereus   Found: North America, Europe, Asia
The Boreal Owl has brown upperparts with white spots; whitish underparts with rust streaks; large head with white facial disk; yellow eyes.
Similar to: Northern Saw-whet Owl. Northern Saw-whet Owl has darker bill than Boreal Owl. Juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl has lighter underparts.
Image by:  1) Maik Meid   2) Jan Stefka  3) Greg Schechter - Minnesota   4) Mdf - Ontario, Canada  5) Andrea Pokrzywinski - Alaska  6) Steven Katovich, Forest Service - Minnesota
1) Fledgling  2) Young adult 



Owl, Buff-fronted
  Aegolius harrisiFound: highlands of South America
The Buff-fronted Owl has buff underparts; black upperparts with white spots on wings; brown tail with 2 white spotted bars; black-edged facial disk; yellow eyes; bold black line radiating above eyes.
Image by: 1) Fabio Maffei  2) Ricardo Gentil


Owl, Northern Saw-whet Aegolius acadicus   Found: North America
The Northern Saw-whet Owl has brown or reddish upperparts with white spots; pale underparts with streaks; white face with brown and cream streaks; yellow eyes; dark bill.
Similar to: Boreal Owl. Northern Saw-whet Owl has darker bill than Boreal Owl. Juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owl has lighter underparts.
Similar to: Eastern Screech-Owl, Western Screech-Owl. Northern Saw-whet Owl does not have ear tuffs; Saw-whet Owls do.
Image by:  1) Kathy and Sam   2) RBS 10025   3) Alan D. Wilson - Morden Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia   4) J N Stuart   5) Kameron Perensovich
1) Fledglings



Owl,_Unspotted _Saw-whet   Aegolius ridgwayi Found: southern  Mexico to western Panama
The Unspotted Saw-whet Owl has dark brown upperparts with white spotting on wings; buff underparts becoming darker on upper-breast; large head; buff facial disk with white edge; yellow eyes.
Image by: 1) Chris Jiminez - Costa Rica  2) MauricioCalderon



Genus Ciccaba
These small owls are found in Central and South America. They have a yellowish bill.

Owl, Black-and-white  Ciccaba nigrolineata  Found: Mexico, Central America, northern South America
The Black-and-white Owl has black upperparts, head, face; white diagonal stripes on forehead; white underparts with black barring; yellow bill, legs.
Similar to: Black-banded Owl. Black-banded Owl has sharper contrasting barring on belly than does Black-and-white Owl. Black-and-white Owl has more distinct white stripes on forehead.
Image by: 1) Jerry Oldenettel - Costa Rica  2) Barloventomagico - Venezuela  3) Len Blumin


Owl,_Black-banded  Ciccaba huhula  Found: South America
The Black-banded Owl has black upperparts; white underparts with fine black barring; yellow bill, legs.
Similar to: Black-and-white Owl. Black-banded Owl has sharper contrasting barring on belly than does Black-and-white Owl. Black-and-white Owl has more distinct white stripes on forehead.
Image by: 1) Daniel2005  2) Francesco_Veronesi- Ecuador


Owl, Mottled  Ciccaba virgata  Found: South America
The Mottled Owl has dark brown upperparts with fine barring; light underparts with distinct brown stripes; white v-shaped supercilium; dark eyes.
Image by: 1, 2) Dominic Sherony   3) Cliff1066


Owl. Rufous-banded  Ciccaba albitarsis  Found: northern South America
The Rufous-banded Owl  has rufous upperparts with faint banding; whitish underparts with banding; whitish supercilium; orange-yellow bill.
Image by: 1) Nelson Wu   2) Noaman Ali



Genus Gymnoglaux - 1 species

Owl, Bare-legged  Gymnoglaux lawrencii  Found: Cuba
Image by: 1) Dominic Sherony  2) Petroglyph



Genus Lophostrix - 1 species

Owl,_Crested  Lophostrix cristata  Found: Central and South America
The Crested Owl has brown or rufous upperparts with faint vermiculation; lighter underparts; white ear tufts extend into striking crest.
Image by: 1) Dominic Sherony - Panama  2) Joao_Quental



Genus Megascops
Similar to other owls, the screech owl females are larger than the males of their species. They have a compact size and shape. The screech owls are small and agile. They are about 7 to 10 inches tall and have a wingspan of about 18 to 24 inches. They have prominent, wide-set feather tufts with bright yellow eyes. They have different brownish hues with whitish, patterned underside. This coloration helps them get camouflage against the tree bark. They have well-developed raptorial claws and curved bill. They use them as a tool to tear their prey into pieces that are small enough for them to swallow. They tend to carry their prey to the nest and then eat it.

Owl,_Balsas_Screech-   Megascops seductus  Found: Mexico
The Balsas Sreech-Owl has brown and gray upperparts with dusky streaking; line of pale spots on scapulars; grayish-brown facial disk; elongated feathers above the eyes form a pair of "ear" tufts; whitish underparts with streaks.
Image by: 1) nolafryar


Owl,_Bare-shanked_Screech-  Megascops clarkii  Found: Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia
The Bare-shanked Screech-Owl has rufous or brown plumage; tawny facial disk with no discernable disk edge; bar crossed streaks on underparts with some white spotting.
Image by: 1) Don Faulkner  2) Chris Jiminez - Costa Rica


Owl,_Bearded_Screech-  Megascops barbarus  Found: Guatemala, Mexico
The Bearded Screech-Owl has a light-brown and reddish-brown morph. The light brown morph has pperparts  with black and white spots; dark upper-breast with yellow-brown banding; white lower-breast and belly with dark streaks; yellow eyes; greenish-gray bill. The reddish-brown morph has reddish-brown upperpart,; head.
Image by: 1) Joseph Smit  2) Jason_Wharam 3) Miretter - Mexico


Owl, Black-capped Screech-  Megascops atricapilla  Found: Argentina, Brazil
The Black-capped Sceech-Owl has brown or brownish-black or rufous upperparts; lighter underparts with dark streaks and also light vermiculation; dark cap; dark sides of face.
Image by: 1) Dario Sanches  - Brazil  2) Hakan Sandin - Brazil


Owl, Cinnamon Screech- Megascops petersoni  Found: Ecuador, Peru
The Cinnamon Screech-Owl has red and brown morphs.
Image by: 1) Jose Loaisa - Ecuador  2) Jan Veenstra


Owl,_Cloud_Forest_Screech-   Megascops marshalli  Found: Bolivia, Peru
The Cloud Forest Screech-Owl has dark eyes; reddish facial disks with black rim; heavy white spotting over the lower breast and belly.
Image by: 1) Joaquin_Ugarte


Owl, Columbian  Screech-  Megascops colombianus  Found: Columbia, Ecuador 
Image by: 1) S Cooeman  2) Diego Calderon


Owl, Eastern Screech- Megascops asio  Found: North America
The Eastern Screech-Owl has mainly red or gray plumage; streaked underparts; medium ear tufts; yellow eyes.
Similar to: Northern Saw-whet Owl. Northern Saw-whet Owl does not have ear tuffs; Eastern Saw-whet Owl does.
Similar to: Western Screech-Owl. The ranges of Eastern and Western Screech-Owls do not overlap in the USA. They can be differentiated by voice. Western Screech-Owl does not have a red phase.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center  4) Dick - North Carolina  5) Greg Hume
1) Red and Gray phase  2, 3) Gray phase  4, 5) Red phase



Owl,_Koepcke's_Screech-   Megascops koepckeae  Found: Peru
Similar to: Peruvian Screech-Owl. The stuttering, staccato song of Koepcke's Screech-Owl also is very different from the purring trill given by Peruvian.
Image by: 1) Carlos_Calle  2) Martin_Berg


Owl,_Long-tufted_Screech-   Megascops sanctaecatarinae  Found: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay
The Lon-tufted Screech-Owl has three morphs: brown, red, and gray with brown being most common.
Image by: 1) Hector_Bottai - Brazil  2) Nortondefeis  3) Claudio_D_Timm


Owl,_Montane_Screech- also Hoy's Screech-Owl  Megascops hoyi  Found: Argentina, Bolivia
Image by: 1) Brendan_Ryan - Argentina  2) Carlos_Cunado


Owl,_Pacific_Screech-
Megascops cooperFound: Mexico, Central America
Image by: 1) Patrick Coin - Costa Rica  2) Chris_Jimenez - Costa Rica  3) David_Rodriguez_Arias - Costa Rica


Owl,_Puerto_Rican_Screech-
  Megascops nudipes  Found: Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rican Screech-Owl has brown or rufous upperparts; brown / rufous and white breast; mostly white belly; whitish superciliums; no ear tufts.
Image by: 1) Alfbed Newton  2) Lucas Lamonta  3) Rafy_Rodriguez


Owl, Rufescent Screech-  Megascops ingens  Found: northern South America
The Rufescent Screeh-Owl has a brown phase and rufous phase; brown eyes. The plumage is rather uniform in color except for white on the scapulars (shoulder blades).
Image by: 1) Claudio Timm  2) Peter Verheij - Ecuador


Owl, Tawny-bellied Screech-  Megascops watsonii  Found: northern South America
The Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl has vermiculated gray, brown and red morphs; tawny belly; long ear-tuffs; dark facial disk; dark eye brows.
Similar to: Tropical Screech-Owl. Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl is darker than Tropical Screech-Owl and especially has darker eyebrows.
Image by:   1) Allan Hopkins - Guyana  2) Birding Brazil Tours
1) Might be a Tropical Screech-Owl.


Owl, Tropical Screech-  Megascops choliba  Found: South America 
The Tropical Screech-Owl is highly variable in color - mainly gray-brown or brown or rufous. It has yellow eyes; whitish supercilium; black edge to side of face; 21 - 23 cm length.
Similar to: Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl. Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl is darker than Tropical Screech-Owl and especially has darker eyebrows.
Similar to: Vermiculated Screech-Owl. Tropical Screech-Owl has bold eyebrows and obvious black edge to facial disk; Vermiculated Screech-Owl does not.
Image by: 1) Bart van Dorp - Brazil 2) Dominic Sherony - Panama   3) Barloventomagico - Venezuela  4) Andrew Dixon


Owl, Vermiculated Screech-  also  Guatemalan Screeh-Owl  Megascops guatemalae  Found: Mexico to Costa Rica
The Vermiculated Screech-Owl has rufous or grayish-brown plumage; horizontal vermiculation on underparts; ear tufts; yellow eyes.
Similar to: Tropical Screech-Owl. Tropical Screech-Owl has bold eyebrows and obvious black edge to facial disk; Vermiculated Screech-Owl does not.
Image by: 1) Jerry Oldenettel - Costa Rica  2) Don Faulkner - Costa Rica


Owl, Western Screech- Megascops kennicottii Found: western North America
The Western Screech-Owl has brown or dark gray plumage with streaking on the underparts; small ear tufts; yellow eyes.
Similar to: Eastern Screech-Owl. The ranges of Eastern and Western Screech-Owls do not overlap in the USA. They can be differentiated by voice. Western Screech-Owl does not have a red phase.
Similar to: Flammulated Owl. Western Screeh-Owl has yellow eyes, Flammulated Owl does not.
Similar to: Northern Saw-whet Owl. Northern Saw-whet Owl does not have ear tuffs; Western Saw-whet Owl does.
Similar to: Whiskered Screech-Owl. Western Screech-Owl has darker bill than Whiskered Screech-Owl.
Image by: 1) Beth Hoffman - Arizona  2) SearchNet Media - Arizona    3) Bryant Olsen   4) Dan Irizarry  5) Charlie Westerinen - Tuscon, Arizona
5) Mohave type



Owl,_Peruvian_Screech- also West Peruvian Screech-Owl  Megascops roboratus  Found: Peru, Ecuador
The Peruvian Screech-Owl has red and gray morphs.
Image by: 1) Francesco_Veronesi   2) Oz_Horine


Owl, Whiskered Screech-  Megascops trichopsis  Found: North America (Arizona), Central America
The Whiskered Screech-Owl has brown or dark gray plumage; barring on the breast; ear tufts; yellow eyes.
Similar to: Western Screech-Owl. Western Screech-Owl has darker bill than Whiskered Screech-Owl.
Image by: 1) David Bygott - Arizona  2) Richard Bonser  3) Jared Hughey - Arizona


Owl,_White-throated_Screech-   Megascops albogularis  Found: in Andes in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru Venezuela
The White-throated Screech-Owl can be identifed by its white throat patch.
Image by: 1) Arango,_Alvaro  2) Lev_Frid - Ecuador



Genus Micrathene - 1 species

Owl, Elf  Micrathene whitneyi   Found: southwest United States and Mexico
World's lightest owl. White eyebrows make face distintive.
Image by:  1) H. Dwight Beers- Maricopa County, Arizona  2)   Dominic Sherony 
    3) Bryant Olsen - West of Wickenburg  4) Charlie Westerinen - captivity at Tucson, AZ



Genus Pseudoscops

Owl, Jamaican  Pseudoscops grammicus  Found: Jamaica
The Jamaican Owl has an amber facial disk rimmed with black-flecked white.
Image by: 1) Dominic Sherony


Owl, Striped  Pseudoscops clamator  Found: Mexico, Central America, South America
The Striped Owl has cinnamon upperparts with heavy stipes and fine vermiculation; light brown facial disk edged with black; whitish underparts with black stripes; black bill.
Image by: 1) Chris Gladis  2) Arthur Chapman   3) Frank Wouters  4) lotlhmoq



Genus Pulsatrix
Thede spectacled owls are found in South America.

Owl, Band-bellied  Pulsatrix melanota  Found: Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru
The Band-bellied Owl has dark brown upperparts; whitish underparts with bold dark barring; brown facial disk with white spectacles; reddish-brown eyes.
Similar to: Tawny-browed Owl. Band-bellied Owl has lighter underparts than Tawny-browed Owl and, as the name suggests, has distinct barring on the belly
Image by: 1) Larry Kay - Ecuador


Owl, Spectacled  Pulsatrix perspicillata  Found: South America
The Spectacled Owl has brown upperparts, head, upper-breast; white facial markings; whitish lower-breast, belly; yellow eyes; pale bill.
Image by: 1) Charlie Westerinen - Prague Zoo  2, 3, 4)  Dick Daniels - Carolina Raptor Center


Owl, Tawny-browed  Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana  Found: South America
The Tawny-browed Owl has dark brown upperparts, upper-breast; cinnamon-buff lower-breast and belly with some rusty barring; tawny eyebrows.
Similar to: Band-bellied Owl. Band-bellied Owl has lighter underparts than Tawny-browed Owl and, as the name suggests, has distinct barring on the belly.
Image by: 1, 2) Dario Sanches - Brazil



Genus Surnia - 1 species

Owl, Northern Hawk- Surnia ulula   Found: circumpolar regions of North America, Europe, Asia
The horizonal streaks on underparts and long tail make the Northern Hawk Owl easy to identify.
Image by: 1) Brian Gratwicke   2) Denis Robidous  3) Alan D Wilson - British Columbia  4) Alan - Quebec






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