An Unexpected Visit From A Screech Owl in Costa Rica

While still enjoying a few REM cycles just as the night was turning to day, I heard a humungous thump that sounded like it came from the kitchen. Sometimes, birds hit the house, but never had I heard one hit at that time of day or with such force. Fearing the worst, I went outside in my skivvies, seeking evidence on the east sidewalk. There are so many birds here in Costa Rica that it is an ongoing problem of them striking a window now and then.

screech owl on branch in costa rica
He's not particularly happy about the camera flash
In the gloom, I made out a large lump that first looked to me like a large bat. As I came closer, I realized it was an owl, on its back, out cold, curled wings limp at its sides. 

I tried to scoop him up in a dust pan to put him out of reach of the cat, when he suddenly woke up and righted himself. 

I woke up Tamara so that she could see him and assist me. She retrieved some heavy gloves so that I could pick him up off the ground. He barely struggled as I carefully placed him on a nearby bird feeder roof out of the reach of our cat who has big ideas of being a mighty predator.

As I tried to place him on the roof of the feeder, he grabbed onto a nearby branch of Reina de la Noche, and sat up straight. 

There he rested for a good 30 minutes. We came to visit him a few times within a couple of feet to see how he was recovering. 

We endured his heavy, brooding stare as I tried to match his markings to the illustrations of various Costa Rican owls in my guide book. I decided, of the owls depicted, that he is a Vermiculated Screech Owl, sometimes referred to as a Middle American Screech Owl.

Eventually, he tired of our gawking and flew off. His flight seemed normal, so we're hoping he makes a full recovery.


  1. When I was in college, two barn owls that lived in the rafters of my ancient dormitory got into a lethal argument. One of them died.

    1. That's interesting. Usually in nature fights like that result in one of the combatants leaving to go lick their wounds. Thanks for sharing the story.

  2. Early one morning we heard two thumps on our front door. We found a hummingbird and Ferruginous pygmy owl lying on the sidewalk. The hummer was only stunned and flew off after a few minutes. Sadly, the owl was dead.

    1. How sad. I presume the owl must've been in pursuit of the hummingbird, so at least it was a happy ending for him.


Thanks so much for your comment! - Casey

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