Facts about Black-capped Screech Owl. The Black-capped Screech Owl is a commonly observed but not well studied South American screech owl. "Scientific name for Black-capped Screech Owl is Megascops atricapilla". The Black-capped Screech Owl is a member of the Strigidae family and strigiformes order. The Black-capped Screech Owl is occasionally called the Variable Screech-Owl. It used to be called Otus atricapillus and Strix atricapilla. In Spanish, it is called Autillo Capirotado.
Physical Characteristics of Black-capped Screech Owl
Black-capped Screech Owls have bright yellow eyes or brown. Black-capped Screech Owls have white rings with brown vermiculation around the eyes. The cere is yellow brown. Black-capped Screech Owls have round heads. Their bills are greenish-gray. Their feathers are overwhelmingly brown with some dark banding of darker brown. The facial disk is dirty brown. Black-capped Screech Owls have feathered tarsi. Their toes are brown with dark claws. The bill is grayish white.
Black-capped Screech Owls are eight to ten inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm) tall; including the short tail, they are up to twelve inches (30.5 cm) long. Black-capped Screech Owls have a similar wingspan. Females are larger and heavier than the males. This is common trait in the Megascops group.
The species was first described by Temminck in 1822.The species may be part of a group of Megascops species with Megascops Guatemalae, Megascops Vermicalatus, Megascops Hoyi and Megascops Sanctaecatarinae. Each of these owls has a distinctive call but similar appearances.
The species most closely resembles Otis guatemalae. However, the black capped screech owl has larger ear tufts, a much darker crown of feathers on the top of the head (hence the black capped name) and a lighter facial disk than Otis guatemalae.
Behavior of Black-capped Screech Owl
The Black-capped Screech Owl nests in old woodpecker cavities and other holes in trees. They do not live in colonies per se but breed in proximity to each other.
This bird mostly eats insects like locusts, beetles, moths, and praying mantises. It will eat small vertebrates like insects and frogs. Black-capped Screech Owls usually hunt off of a perch. It hunts in the forest canopy but sometimes hunts in the undergrowth on the ground. These owls do not migrate throughout their range.
This owl has a long fast trill of a song. It lasts eight to fourteen seconds, beginning faintly before increasing in volume until it is cut off abruptly.
The Black-capped Screech Owls become active after sunset and hunt throughout the night.
Habitat of Black-capped Screech Owl
The Black-capped Screech Owl lives in temperate forests, subtropical forests, and moist lowland forests but not formal rain forests. It prefers humid forests and rain forest.Black-capped Screech Owls live at elevations up to 1800 feet (550 meters) near the equator and 750 feet (230 meters) above sea level in Argentina.
They sometimes approach roads and human settlements, but they do not live among human habitations.
Range of Black-capped Screech Owl
The Black-capped Screech Owl’s range covers much of southeast South America, from the state of Espito Santo in Brazil to northeastern Paraguay. Its wide range and steady numbers within that range make it a species of “Least Concern” by the IUCN.
An isolated population in northeast Brazil may be part of the Megascops atricapilla species.
Trivia of Black-capped Screech Owl
The Black-capped Screech Owl is probably most closely related to the Long-tufted Screech-Owl. This species may actually be a separate race of the Megascops sanctaecatarinae. The latter sometimes occurs in grey, brown, and reddish colors. The black capped screech owl’s most common color is dark brown.