Balsas Screech Owls

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The Balsas Screech Owls (Otus seductus or Megascops seductus) - also known as Western Screech Owls - have a very limited range in central western Mexico, from southern Jalisco and Colima to Western Guerrero. Populations from Colima sometimes are sometimes separated as race colimensis.

They are typically found at low-middle elevations - from 1,800 - 4,500 ft (550 - 1,400 meters), where they inhabit dry thorn forests with scattered trees.



The Balsas Screech-Owl is the largest of all Screech-Owls, measuring about 10.5 inches (~ 27 cm) in length (including the tail) - which is about the size of an American Kestrel.

Their brown, forward-facing eyes are nearly as large as human eyes and are immobile within their circular bone sockets. For this reason, owls need flexible necks, as they have to turn the entire head to change views. They have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as most mammals and can move their heads 270 degrees in either direction (nearly all the way around!). Most other bird species have their eyes on the sides of their heads enabling them to see sideways and, to some extent, backwards. Owls, on the other hand, have both eyes in the front which enhances their depth perception.

Owls are far-sighted, and are unable to clearly see anything within a few inches of their eyes. Their far vision - particularly in low light - is, however, exceptional.

To protect their eyes, Owls have 3 eyelids - one upper and one lower eyelid. The upper lid closes when the owl blinks, and the lower closes when the Owl sleeps. The third eyelid - called a nictitating membrane - is a thin layer of tissue that closes diagonally across the eye, from the inside to the outside. The purpose of these membranes is to clean, moisten and protect the surface of the eyes.

Similar Species:

It can be differentiated by other screen owls by its brown eyes (irises), which are yellow in other screech owls. Since no other screech owls occur within its range, confusion is unlikely.

Resembles the slightly larger Mottled Owl; however, the Balsas Screech Owl can be identified by its cross barring on the finer chest streaks and its ear tufts.

The Vermiculated Screech Owl also has yellow eyes, but is smaller in size and has different vocalizations that are delivered much faster and at a higher pitch.


Nesting / Breeding

Most nesting activities are observed in June.


Calls / Vocalizations

The Balsas Screech-Owl's call is described to sound like a "bouncing ball". Its alarm "scream" call is very bold.


Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ?????? ... Czech: výre?ek colimský, Výrecek Mooruv ... Danish: Balsasdværghornugle ... Dutch: Balsas-schreeuwuil, Mangrove-schreeuwuil ... Estonian: Kõnnupäll ... Finnish: Meksikonkirkupöllönen ... French: Petit-duc aux yeux bruns, Petit-duc du Balsas ... German: Balsakreischeule, Balsaskreischeule, Balsas-Kreischeule ... Italian: Assiolo del Balsas, Assiolo di Balsas ... Norwegian: Balsasugle ... Polish: Syczek samotny ... Russian: ????? ???? ???????, ???? ??????? ????? ... Slovak: Výrcek balsaský, výr?ek balsaský ... Spanish: Autillo de Balsas, Autillo de Balzas, Autillo del Balsas, Lechucita Sabanera, Tecolote del Balsas, Tecolote occidental ... Swedish: Balsasskrikdvärguv

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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