In the latest published regulation on the list of species at risk in the Official Mexican Standard NOM-059-SERMARNAT-2010, there are up to 21 species of owls, including the tecolote.
Unfortunately, this species is one of Mexico’s endangered animals. If it is not more strictly controlled, it could even disappear.
Tecolotes and owls
Both tecolotes and owls are species that live in forests in different parts of the world, but deforestation, among other serious problems, is contributing to their disappearance. This causes them to move into unusual habitats that endanger their survival.
Strigids (a species of owl) in Mexico have been called by different names, such as owlets, tawny owls or tecolotes. The different territories in Mexico where tecolotes are found are located in Colima, Michoacán or Morelos. These locations are usually noted for being warm, humid, and similar climates.
The name of this nocturnal animal comes from the Nahuatl tecolotl, which literally means owl. Su alimentación está basada en insectos, vertebrados de tamaño reducido, entre otros. This makes them essential for controlling pests of different species, such as rats or insects.
They are not usually very large, measuring barely more than 40 centimeters and weighing a maximum of 180 grams, although this is unusual. They stand out for their large black eyes, light brown colors and white stripes, although depending on which subspecies of tecolote is described, they have darker or darker colors and different sizes.
The young tecolote are usually protected by the mother most of the time, while the male is in charge of bringing the food. This process can take several weeks, long enough for the parents to consider that the hatchlings can be left alone for a limited time. After this time, the hatchlings will leave the nest.
The white tecolote
White tecolotes are rare or very infrequent, usually confused with owls.
Tecolotes and popular culture
For centuries owls and tecolotes have been associated with various legends, stories and beliefs in the popular culture of several countries, not only in Latin America. These stories even endangered the species because of the fear they provoked in the most superstitious.
One of the best known tells that the tecolotes were messengers of death itself and were related above all to the underworld. In fact, in several excavations and archaeological sites, tecolote remains have been found, which suggests that they were used for religious rites or ceremonies.
Their singing was also an omen that something bad was going to happen. His physical appearance has also contributed to fueling fear, as his oversized, black eyes were reminiscent of the empty sockets of a skull.