Crested Owl

Lophostrix cristata
Population status:
Least Concern
Body length:
38 to 43 cm (15-17 in)
425 to 620 g (15-21.8 oz)
Crested Owl


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Did You Know?

  • There are three subspecies of the Crested Owl
  • Researchers observed Crested Owl feeding on bats that had been captured in a mist-net. 
  • This species' call has been described as "croaking" - similar to a frog!

Other Owls

How The Peregrine Fund is Helping

Though The Peregrine Fund does not work directly with Crested Owls, our efforts in scientific research, habitat conservation, education, and community development help conserve birds of prey around the world. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation. Our work with the Neotropical Raptor Network helps conserve raptors by fostering collaboration and communication among raptor enthusiasts in the region. And, finally, our support of the Global Raptor Information Network gives raptor researchers tools to more efficiently conduct their own studies while contributing to a global program. It also provides citizen scientists a way to participate in raptor science and conservation.

Where They Live

This Neotropical species is found from southern Mexico, through Central America and into portions of South America. It prefers to make its home in humid forests with tall trees, cloud forest, and even woodlands. 

What They Do

This owl is unmistakeable. With a name like Crested Owl, it stands to reason that it would have some sort of crest. In actuality, it gets its name from its long white eyebrows and ear tufts! Like many owls, the Crested Owl is strictly nocturnal, meaning it moves about, hunts, mates and generally goes about its business during the night. During the daytime, it rests, or roosts on branches surrounded by dense vegetation. It is a resident species, which means it doesn't migrate, but remains in the same general area all year round.

Why They Need Our Help

The Crested Owl is categorized as a species of Least Concern. However, habitat loss through deforestation is likely to have a major impact on this species in the future.

What They Eat

These owls feed mainly on large insects such as beetles, caterpillars and grasshoppers. They also take small vertebrates. 

Nests, Eggs, and Young

Very little is known about the breeding biology and habits of the Crested Owl. We know they likely nest in tree cavities but little else is known!

Crested Owl and the World Center for Birds of Prey

Though far from Crested Owl habitat, the World Center for Birds of Prey offers fun ways to learn about owls and other raptors. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room with activities from coloring sheets to quizzes to costumes await you. At our visitor center, you can see live owls up close - such as a Verreaux' Eagle-Owl or a Western Screech-Owl, and learn about the wonderful and interesting adaptations they have in order to survive in their respective habitats. There is also a touch table with owl feathers and other natural objects available for exploration. Take a stroll along a short nature trail and look for Barn Owls or even a Northern Saw-whet Owl perched in the trees. 


Holt, D. W., R. Berkley, C. Deppe, P. L. Enríquez, J. L. Petersen, J. L. Rangel Salazar, K. P. Segars, K. L. Wood, G. M. Kirwan, and J. S. Marks (2020). Crested Owl (Lophostrix cristata), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.