6-7" (15-18 cm). Has small, indistinct ear tufts and dark eyes on a brownish-gray face framed by black. Grayish above with largish white spots on shoulders; light below, with white and rust-colored markings.
Similar Species- Screech-owls
A low, mellow hoot, single or double, is repeated almost endlessly, and sounds mechanical.
Breeds locally from southern and southeastern British Columbia, north-central Washington, eastern Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and northern Colorado, south to portions of southwestern states and central Mexico. Winters from central Mexico, south in highlands to Guatemala and El Salvador, and casually north to southern California.
Found in montane forests; associated mainly with ponderosa or Jeffrey pine (often intermixed with aspen in northern range, oaks in southern range, Douglas-fir in British Columbia). In areas with warm, dry summers, also found locally in spruce/fir and lodgepole pine/red fir. During migration, found in wooded areas in lowlands and mountains. Prefers old growth. In Idaho, occupies older ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, and mixed coniferous forests.
Feeds on various insects (e.g., moths, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars). May eat small mammals or birds.
Nocturnal. Foraging tactics include hawk-gleaning, hawking, hover-gleaning, and drop-pouncing. Nests in cavity (old woodpecker hole) in standing snag. In Colorado study, nesting home ranges averaged 14 ha; foraging activity was concentrated in 1-4 areas within home range. During nesting period in Colorado, foraging activity peaked 15-30 min after sunset and 1-1.5 hr before sunrise; birds ceased activity during snow or rain. One study found generally fewer than 4 singing males/40 ha in Oregon, British Columbia, and Colorado. Surveys in Idaho report densities up to 1.24 males/40 ha.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
Moore, T.L. and G.D. Frederick. 1991. Distribution and habitat of flammulated owls (Otus flammeolus) in west-central Idaho. Idaho Dept. Fish & Game, Boise. 28pp.