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Does Choco Screech-Owl Happen in Costa Rica? – 10,000 Birds


Screech-owls don’t truly screech. It’s true and but that was the title they got. I suppose that sounds higher than “tremulous”, “modulating”, or “little hooting” owls even when any of these names can be extra correct. In any case, screech-owls are birds of the Megascops genus, small nocturnal owls present in wooded habitats from southern Alaska to northern Argentina. They’re small, many have brief “horns”, they usually have crytic, patterned plumage to cover them from the talons of diurnal raptors and different can be predators.

Greater than 20 species are acknowledged, many look comparable and to throw a bit tougher flavored sauce into the Megascops combine, there could be just a few extra species awaiting description. One of many extra lately, formally acknowledged screech-owl species is the Choco Screech-Owl. Previously lumped with the Vermiculated Screech-Owl (as a result of it seems to be lots like one), this taxon was ultimately acknowledged as being totally different on account of its vocalizations. It was ultimately accepted as a separate species after genetic research additionally revealed giant variations (over 8%) between birds from central Panama to northern South America and birds from western Panama north to Mexico. Take a look at the proposal and votes for this cut up on the AOS classification comittee web site.

Thus in 2019, the Choco Screech-Owl was formally accepted onto the AOS record in addition to different lists together with the record used for eBird. In Costa Rica, for the reason that Official Guidelines Committee (one thing I participate in) tends to observe adjustments made to the official AOS record, we determined to observe go well with and embrace Choco Screech-Owl on the nation record. However why embrace it if it solely happens from central Panama to Ecuador? As a result of it may also happen in southern Costa Rica. Nicely, one thing happens in southern Costa Rica, some Megascops that sounds far more like Choco Screech-Owl than Center American Screech-Owl. The variations in vocalizations are sufficient to acknowledge that it’s not a Center American they usually sound comparable sufficient to Choco Screech-Owl to both place it with that species or at the least present that the Choco is its closest relative.

The Megascops from southern Costa Rica, this fowl was at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

The one recognized name of the birds from southern Costa Rica is decidedly totally different from the longer, descending trill of the Choco Screech and this factors to the true risk of it being an undescribed, species stage taxon (!) however with out additional proof from playback experiments and/or genetic research, splitting it now could be leaping the boat. With that in thoughts, the Costa Rica guidelines committee determined that one of the best, current plan of action can be to incorporate it on the record as Choco Screech-Owl till we now have a greater image of its taxonomic standing.

So, does Choco Screech-Owl happen in southern Costa Rica? I’d say in the meanwhile, “sure”, however I’d additionally say that for those who had been keen on seeing species stage birds, you would possibly need to make an effort to see the Choco Screech-Owls in southern Costa Rica. There’s a good probability that future research will reveal one more species that solely happens in southern Costa Rica and adjoining Panama.

I must also word that a number of ornithologists and guides have been conscious of the totally different calls made by the Megascops in southern Costa Rica for a while. What we want now are research to indicate how this distinctive little owl must be considered from a taxonomic standpoint.



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