Western Screech-Owl

Length 8.5 inches, wing span 20 inches, weight 5 oz . Females are larger than males. Adults are larger than Whiskered, with larger feet and more streaked plumage pattern.

The Western Screech-Owl is classified as Least Concern. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

The Western Screech-Owl is a very common resident in much of the Western U.S., Canada and Mexico and is often the most abundant night predator in its range. Here you will find video, photos, recordings and a brief field notes section to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. A more in depth write up and range map can be found in its natural history page (the Biology link). To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below. More

The base of the bill on a Western Screech-Owl is dark gray or black. Eastern and Whiskered Screech have a yellowish to light gray or greenish-gray bill. Western and Whiskered Screech-Owls have overlapping ranges in all areas the Whiskered Screech occur in North America (S. E. Arizona and S. W. New Mexico) although it is smaller (1 1/4 in.) and typically is found at a higher elevation than Western Screech. Young: The young are similar to the young of the Eastern Screech-Owl. More

The Western Screech-Owl is a relatively small owl, and is a close relative to the European Scops Owl and the North American Eastern Screech Owl. Breeding habitats for this species include open deciduous and mixed woodlands throughout the western portion of North America. Nests are insulated cavities in trees or cacti; these are sometimes abandoned woodpecker holes. This bird does not migrate in winter months, and is a permanent resident throughout its range. More

A common small owl of the West, the Western Screech-Owl can be found in urban as well as wild lands. More

Western Screech-Owls are common in open woodlands, forested streamsides, deserts, suburban areas, and parks. They tend to avoid dense forests without openings. Although they occur in a wide variety of habitats, they are most often found in deciduous or mixed forest microhabitats, often along streams. They commonly nest in cottonwood or big-leaf maple. More

The Western Screech-Owl has only one color morph, gray, but individuals found along the northwest coast can be brownish. As with its eastern counterpart, the belly and breast of the western species are marked with blackish streaks and bars. In both species, males and females look alike. They are approximately eight inches tall, with yellow eyes. They have ear tufts, which are conspicuous when raised. More

Western Screech-Owls may be difficult to detect at low densities, since Burleigh and Lowery (1940) did not record them in the Guadalupe Mountains, although Bailey (1928) did. Also, Newman (1979) did not record them there in 1972-74, whereas I did in 1954-63 and again at various times in the l980s and '90s. Normally, however, they are much more abundant that Eastern Screech-Owls where the two overlap west of the Pecos River. More

similar in appearance to a Western Screech-Owl, but has smaller talons, heavier cross-barring on the underparts, and a lighter bill base. The easiest way to tell the two apart is by voice- they have distinctly different calls. Whiskered Screech-Owl, Miller Canyon, Arizona, 3/03. Great Horned Owl Photo Gallery Snowy Owl Pictures from Riverside Reservoir, Weld County, Colorado 2/24/02. More

What do they look like? Western Screech-owls have big, round, dark yellow eyes and ear tufts. How big are they? They are between 8 and 10 inches long. If they spread them out, their wings would be 1 ½ - 2 feet wide. They also accept nesting boxes. Western Screech-owl How many eggs do they lay? The female lays from 2 to 6 white eggs once a year. More

Western Screech-Owl's population density, habitat use and home range size. Distribution * In the Southern Interior, known to breed only in the Okanagan Valley. * May breed occasionally in Thompson and Kootenay valleys, but the few records there are mainly in the fall and winter. * Elevational range: below 600 metres. More

The Western Screech-Owl is very similar in plumage to Whiskered and Eastern Screech-Owls and is best separated by voice. Other small owls lack prominent ear tufts. More

Western Screech-OwlThis information was scanned from The Birds of British Columbia (Campbell et al.), Volume II, pages 358-359. Volumes I, II and III of The Birds of British Columbia can be ordered electronically at: orders@ubcpress.ubc.ca from UBC Press in Vancouver, British Columbia. More

Order : Strigiformes
Family : Strigidae
Genus : Megascops
Species : kennicottii
Authority : (Elliot, 1867)