WHISKERED SCREECH OWL

Megascops trichopsis

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL FACTS:

A small grayish owl with golden eyes, greenish-yellow beak, and small ear tufts

Males: usually gray, though sometimes reddish; facial disc light gray with faint rings and whisker-like feathers which cannot be detected in the field

Females: similar to male

Young: grey to grayish-brown with faint crossbars on head and body; inconspicuous ear-tufts

OTHER NAMES:

 

Spotted Screech Owl, Whiskered Owl


FAMILY: Strigidae


CLOSEST RELATIVE:

 

Western Screech Owl, Eastern Screech Owl

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL SIZE:

Height: Males 16-20cm (6.3-7.9 in), Females 16-20cm (6.3-7.9 in)

Weight: Males 85g (2.9 oz), Females 94g (3.3 oz)

Wingspan Both: 40-50cm (15.7-19.7 in)

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL RANGE:

Range: southern New Mexico and Arizona, Mexico and Central America

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL HABITAT:

 

Dense deciduous and mixed forests at high elevations

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL DIET:

Mostly insects and other arthropods, sometimes small mammals

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL VOICE:

Often described as sounding like Morse code

Males: a series of about 8 evenly spaced “ook” notes the last dropping in pitch; also 2 short notes, followed by 2-5 longer notes

Females: higher pitched; often duets with male

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL NESTING:

Nest Site: cavity nester; nests mostly in Flicker holes, high (5.5-7 meters) in deciduous (oak, walnut, juniper, sycamore) trees

Eggs: 3-4 eggs

Incubation: unknown

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL HUNTING HABITS:

Nocturnal; hunts from tree perch; sometimes flutters in tree tops catching flying insects

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL CONSERVATION STATUS: 

Threatened in New Mexico

WHISKERED SCREECH OWL DISTRIBUTION IN NORTH AMERICA

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

Whiskered Screech Owl - Denver Holt
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 

The Whiskered Screech Owl is the most mysterious of the three Screech Owl species. Found mostly south of the U.S. border, the Whiskered Screech Owl remains elusive.

Very few nests of this species have ever been found. These owls tend to live at high elevations (usually around 5,000 feet) and nest high up in trees. In fact, they spend much of their time hidden in the tree tops, roosting in dense foliage and feeding on flying insects. Their nocturnal hunting habits and high elevation home make them difficult for humans to locate, but just like the other species of Screech Owls, this owl can be identified by its unique voice.

The Whiskered Screech Owl boasts an unusual series of hoots, often described as sounding like Morse code in the way the notes vary in length. This owl can also be heard giving a series of short whistles, all on the same pitch.

 

If the unique call of the Whiskered Screech Owl brings you close enough to catch a glimpse of one, you might notice that it more closely resembles the Western Screech Owl with its dark beak and overall gray coloring, though its bold chest markings are more similar to the Eastern.

 

The Whiskered Screech Owl is the smallest of the three, standing to only about 18 centimeters. Though the three Screech Owl species are similar, clearly they differ in many ways.

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We are so grateful to the photographers who capture owls, and our work, in the most amazing ways. They generously share their work with us, and you. Check out the works of some of the photographers whose work is featured on our site! They are incredible talented artists who are committed to wildlife conservation.

Thank you to:

Kurt Lindsay: https://kurtlindsay.smugmug.com/Nebulosa/i-7D8Wh9d

Daniel J Cox: http://naturalexposures.com

Radd Icenoggle: https://www.flickr.com/photos/radley521

Melissa Groo: https://www.melissagroo.com

Ly Dang: https://www.nature2pixels.com

Tom Murphy: https://www.tmurphywild.com/

Deborah Hanson

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