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Pacific Screech-Owl - BirdForum Opus

Photo by patricklhoir
Cano Negro, Costa Rica, January, 2017
Megascops cooperi

Otus cooperi
Includes Oaxaca Screech-Owl


Medium-large owl up to 23cm or 9 inches.

  • Brown with dark streaks on the chest
  • Longish ear tufts


The Pacific coast of south-central Mexico and Central America, to Central Costa Rica.



Photo by cassowary
Cerro Lodge, Costa Rica, 2016

Two subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • M. lambi - Coastal s Mexico (Pacific slope of Oaxaca)
  • M. cooperi - Pacific slope of southern Mexico (extreme eastern Oaxaca and Chiapas) south to northwestern Costa Rica

Some authorities split the two taxa into separate species: Pacific Screech-Owl (M. cooperi) and Oaxaca Screech-Owl (M. lambi).

The subspecies lambi has in the past been included in Eastern Screech-Owl but differs among other things in having bristled toes (not feathered).

This and almost all Screech-Owls in the Americas have previously been considered to belong in the same genus (Otus) as the European and Asian Scops Owls, but a reassignment to Megascops have been accepted by among other authorities, the American Ornithologists' Union.


It is found in wooded areas as well as semi open sites such as forest edges and trees along waterways.



They are nocturnal but also sometimes seen at twilight, preying mostly on large insects (such as moths, beetles, scorpiones) along with the occasional small rodent.


Voice of the Oaxaca Screech-Owl form differs from the voice of birds from the rest of this taxon[2].


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. König, C. and F. Weick 2008. Owls of the World, second edition. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 978-0-7136-6548-2

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