WESTERN SCREECH OWL

Megascops kennicotti

  © KURT LINDSAY  

WESTERN SCREECH OWL FACTS:

A small, grayish owl with yellow eyes, dark beak, and small ear tufts

Males: usually gray, with darker streaks on its chest; white wing bars, white streak on shoulders

Females: similar to male

Young: more gray-brown, less distinct barring

OTHER NAMES:

 

Kennicott’s Screech owl, Vinaceous Screech Owl


FAMILY: Strigidae


CLOSEST RELATIVE:

 

Eastern Screech Owl, Whiskered Screech Owl

WESTERN SCREECH OWL SIZE:

Height: Males 19-23cm (7.5-9.1 in), Females 21-25cm (8.3-9.8 in)

Weight: Males 131g (4.6 oz), Females 157g (5.5 oz)

Wingspan Both: 55-62cm (21.6-24.4 in)

WESTERN SCREECH OWL RANGE:

Range: western North America, from southeast Alaska through western Mexico; east to Texas and Oklahoma

WESTERN SCREECH OWL HABITAT:

 

Mostly riparian areas; also forests and deserts

WESTERN SCREECH OWL DIET:

Variety of small animals including: insects, reptiles, amphibians, crayfish, small mammals, small birds

WESTERN SCREECH OWL VOICE:

Male and female will often sing duet of short notes on one pitch

Males: series of 5-15 soft hoots; double trill, one short, one long; “bouncing-ball” rhythm

Females: higher pitched than male

WESTERN SCREECH OWL NESTING:

Nest Site: cavity nester, often in holes made by Flickers; will use nest boxes

Eggs: 3-7 eggs

Incubation: 26 days

WESTERN SCREECH OWL HUNTING HABITS:

Nocturnal, begins foraging shortly after sunset; sits and waits for prey, will also forage on the ground

WESTERN SCREECH OWL CONSERVATION STATUS: 

Not globally threatened; suffers from habitat loss as riparian areas are developed

WESTERN SCREECH OWL DISTRIBUTION IN NORTH AMERICA

western screech owl

Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Western Screech Owl - Denver Holt
00:00
western screech owl

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 

Owls make lots of unusual noises; they hoot, toot, scream, bark, hiss, and screech. So of course the Screech Owl must be the “screecher”, right? Not necessarily. 

There are three species of Screech Owls in North America and only one is known for its screech. However, the unique voices of the Screech Owls do play an important role in distinguishing the three species from one another.

Though the three species may look similar, to a trained ear, the call of the Western Screech Owl sounds quite different than that of the Eastern or Whiskered Screech Owl. The double trill and soft hooting of the Western Screech Owl is often heard in riparian areas, this owl’s habitat of choice.

 

Riparian areas are the forested areas along rivers and streams. These zones are rich with life, filled with reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, and small mammals- all favored prey of this owl.

Western Screech Owls can be found in other areas where these food sources are abundant; they may be found in forests and deserts too, but one thing is for sure- Western Screech Owls are only found “out west”.