Of the five species of Screech-Owls in Costa Rica, we are lucky to have two in our corner of the southern Pacific: Tropical Screech-Owl and Chocó Screech-Owl. Fairly commonly heard (and seen) in San Vito is the Tropical, with two color variations. Seen here is the gray version (of four sightings spread over 20 years, the author claims three of them were the rarer rufous morph). An important field mark is the facial disk outlined in black.
These endearing creatures are small, about 9″, and can be found in forested areas along with gardens and city parks. They pounce on prey from bare, low branches favoring large insects, spiders and scorpions (!).
Chocó Screech-Owl (Megascops centralis) is harder to find and was formerly known as Vermiculated Screech-Owl. With some perseverence, you might find one a little lower down the ridge toward Cuidad Neily. A good field mark for the Chocó is its lack of a distinct facial disk and less vertical streaking on the breast.
When we asked the Screechies if they found it difficult to sleep during the day, the Tropical said (click here and press play to listen), “Yes, because you humans are constantly taking pictures of us” — in Owlish, of course. On the other hand, the Chocó (click here) said, “No, because we know where to hide.”