Fun Puerto Rican Screech Owl Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 29, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Puerto Rican screech owl facts are very interesting to learn.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

Puerto Rico screech owls, locally referred to as the cuckoo bird, are endemic to Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. Its subspecies, belonging to the same genus Gymnasio, are found in the neighboring Virgin Islands. They are found in almost all the fairly dense thickets of Puerto Rico and the wet and dry forests of the archipelago. Mostly brown and white in color, this bird depicts sexual dimorphism. These owls are small birds that prey on small mammals, insects, rodents, and lizards. They do not attack humans and will only become aggressive if provoked. Puerto Rican screech owls are rarely seen flying at a high range of altitudes while hunting. This species usually stays low to the ground so that it can catch its prey easily. A Puerto Rican screech owl is not suitable to be kept as a pet as the Puerto Rican owl prefers the wild.  

Keep reading the article to know more about this fascinating owl. If you like what you read, do check out our articles on the spotted owl and the northern pygmy owl.

Puerto Rican Screech Owl Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Puerto Rican screech owl?

A Puerto Rican screech owl is an owl, belonging to the family Strigidae.

What class of animal does a Puerto Rican screech owl belong to?

A Puerto Rican screech owl is a bird. It belongs to the class Aves, family Strigidae, genus Gymnasio, and order of Strigiformes.

How many Puerto Rican screech owls are there in the world?

Although the exact number of Puerto Rican screech owls belonging to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands is not known, this species has been listed by the IUCN as a Least Concern species. The population of this bird seems to be stable.

Where does a Puerto Rican screech owl live?

Puerto Rican screech owls are found mostly in the wet and dry forests of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. This species of nocturnal owls, also known as cuckoo birds, inhabit the wooded thickets of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  

What is a Puerto Rican screech owl's habitat?

The Puerto Rican screech owl, also known as the Puerto Rican screech, mostly dwells in almost all the wooded thickets of the Puerto Rico enclave but is also found in the islands of Vieques and Culebra. Its subtype screech owl (Megascopic nudipes) was formally found in the Virgin Islands. Although mostly distributed amongst the fairly light woodlands, these Rican screech owl Megascops prefer densely wooded regions and vegetation for roosting.

Who does Puerto Rican screech owl live with?

These birds usually prefer solitude rather than staying in groups. However, the males attract the females in their nests during the breeding season in the winter. The young ones receive care from both of their parents.

How long does a Puerto Rican screech owl live?

A Puerto Rican screech owl lives for a span of approximately 40 years, like all other members belonging to its family. However, its life expectancy increases when it lives in a forest.

How do they reproduce?

The Puerto Rican screech owl breeding season is between April to June.  The birds build their nests in woodpecker holes, fissures of trees, and other thick foliages. The females lay one to two elliptical, semi-flossy eggs. The incubation period lasts between 21-30 days. The hatching of eggs and the building of nests takes place between April and June. The males feed the females while they are incubating.

What is their conservation status?

The Rican screech owl, just like the barn owl and the tawny owl, has been classified as a Least Concern species by the IUCN. They are endemic to the islands of Puerto Rico, Viaques, and Culebra.

Puerto Rican Screech Owl Fun Facts

What does Puerto Rican screech owl look like?

Belonging to the genus Gymnasio, the screech owl is a small plumpy bird found in the archipelago of Puerto Rico. Found in the Virgin Islands too, these birds have white eyebrows accompanied by brown eyes and a green beak. Although the males and females look alike, they do exhibit a little sexual dimorphism. A female Rican screech owl is slightly larger in size compared to a male Rican screech owl. The upperparts are darker than the underparts with the tummy having whiter patches. The upper plumes are brownish and the tone shifts from light brown to white as it runs underneath. Its subspecies, the Rican screech owl of the genus Megascops, look the same.

Screech owls sitting on a branch can be scary to look at.

* Please note that this is an image of a great gray owl, not a Puerto Rican screech owl. If you have an image of a Puerto Rican screech owl please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

The Rican screech owl looks plumpy. The owl is a small brown bird and being calm and friendly, it can be quite cute to look at.

How do they communicate?

Puerto Rican screech owls communicate by making a 'coo' sound. When approached by a threat, it will make a shrill 'coo' to ward off danger.

How big is a Puerto Rican screech owl?

The average weight of a female Puerto Rico screech owl is 0.315 lb (143 g) and that of a male is 0.302 lb (137 g). Their length expands between the range 9.05 -10.63 in (23-27 cm). This makes the owl much smaller than the great gray owl.

How fast can a Puerto Rican screech owl fly?

Although the actual range of speed isn't known, the average normal speed of a screech owl is 5 strokes per second.

How much does a Puerto Rican screech owl weigh?

A Puerto Rican screech owl is a small owl. Females weigh 0.315 lb (143 g), while males weigh 0.302 lb (137 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

No particular names have been assigned to male and female Puerto Rican screech owls.

What would you call a baby Puerto Rican screech owl?

A baby Puerto Rican screech doesn't have a separate particular name. It can be termed as a juvenile Puerto Rican screech owl or a young cuckoo bird.

What do they eat?

Belonging to the woodlands of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, these birds mostly consume lizards, geckos, insects, and rodents. Few even feed on grasshoppers and crickets. The younger owls mostly feed on insects. Screech owls are known to accumulate surplus prey items in tree hollows.

Are they dangerous?

The Puerto Rican screech owl is a small bird that seldom attacks humans. This species of owls are mostly calm and friendly. Its subspecies, the Rican screech owl of the genus Megascops belonging to the Virgin Islands, are of the same nature. They are usually silent and calm creatures. However, they become aggressive if they are disturbed and produce a loud 'coo'. Apart from this, if any person tries to attack their nests, the birds might try to defend by attacking the person.  

Would they make a good pet?

Screech owls are carnivores, meaning that they will need the flesh of rodents and small mammals in their diet. This kind of feeding is not suitable for a pet. Besides this, an owl needs a lot of proper care, even more than a usual pet like a cat or a dog or a rabbit, which is very hard for people. All these factors make owls an unsuitable pet. An owl should be kept in forests rather than as a pet. Its subspecies are also not suitable to be kept as pets and should be left in the wild.

Did you know...

This species of owls belonging to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are nocturnal and usually hunt their prey during the nighttime. They are a nocturnal species of birds.

Though a very common characteristic of most birds, migration is not seen in screech owls hailing from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They are not seen to migrate even in harsh weather conditions. They are an endemic species of screech owls.

Only the upper part of the legs of a Puerto Rican screech owl has feathers. Its subspecies, Rican screech owl of the genus Megascops and the screech owl Megascops nudipes, are similar in shape and looks.

How did the screech owl get its name?

Locally referred to as the cuckoo bird, the Puerto Rican screech owl got its name due to the call it makes. Screech owls produce a loud 'coo-coo' call that sounds like a screech, giving the bird its name. Male screech owls start with a soft sound after which the pitch increases until the call sounds similar to a screeching noise. It fades away quickly. The call of the females has a much-increased pitch.

Is the Puerto Rican screech owl endemic?

The Puerto Rican screech owl is an endemic bird belonging to the family Strigidae. It resides in wetlands and dry and wet forest range all over the island of Puerto Rico. Though it thrives mostly in dense forests or caves, they are also found in the outskirts of the forests where the forest line becomes thinner, including small towns. Since the mid-1900s, there have not been any records of this species outside the island.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our magpie duck facts and western marsh harrier facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable screech owl coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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