Otus kennicottii
(Western Screech-owl)

Order: Strigiformes
Order Description: Owls
Family: Strigidae
Family Description: Typical Owls

Physical Description:
7-10" (18-25 cm). Small owl with ear tufts and usually gray camouflage coloring. A black-rimmed facial disk surrounds clear yellow eyes and a dark bill. Underparts grayish-white with black vertical streaks and fine gray cross-bars. Prominent white spots on the shoulders.

Similar Species- Eastern Screech-Owl, Whiskered Screech-Owl

An accelerating "bouncing ball" series of hollow whistles, often dropping in pitch toward the end.

Resident from south-coastal and southeastern Alaska, coastal and southern British Columbia, northern Idaho, western Montana, southeastern Colorado, and western Oklahoma, south to southern Baja California, northern Mexico, and western Texas. Apparently has moved north into southern Alberta.

Found in woodlands (especially oak and riparianClick word for definition woodlands), and in scrub. In central Idaho, screech owls are limited in distribution by occurrence of deciduousClick word for definition riparian habitat, but are occasionally found in aspen.

Feeds mainly on small mammals (mice and shrews), insects, birds, and sometimes other small vertebrates. Diet may vary seasonally and geographically, depending on local prey abundance.

NocturnalClick word for definition. Nests in cavity in standing snag; may nest in crevice in building, in abondoned magpie nest, or in nest box. Hunts from perch; captures prey on ground. In central Idaho, home ranges of 2 radio- tagged birds were reported as 3-9 ha and 29-58 ha. Distance between adjacent pairs varies from about 50 to a few hundred m. Recent study in southwestern Idaho examined timing of dispersalClick word for definition and post-fledging movements using radiotelemetryClick word for definition and videotaping.

clutchClick word for definition size averages 3-4 eggs; incubation by female lasts about 26 days.

Element Code: ABNSB01040
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
Ellsworth, E.A., J.E. Emerson, J.R. Belthoff, and J. Doremus. 1994. Post-fledging movements and dispersal timing of western screech owls. Pp. 285-288 in K. Steenhof, Ed., Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, 1994 Annual Rep., USDI Bur. Land Mange., Boise District.

Photo by Jim Nestler,© 2002
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.