California Raptor Center

Western Screech Owl

Scientific Name: Otus kennicottii
(Otus is Latin for ‘horned owl’ kennicottiirefers to Robert Kennicott who was an explorer of North America and the founderof the Chicago Academiy of Science).

Size: Length: 7-10in Wingspan: 18-24in        

Weight: Female: 152-215g (~0.33-0.47lb) Male: 130-178g (~0.29-0.39lb)

Lifespan: Both wild and captive birds of this species have a lifespan of approximately 13 years.

ID: At first glance the Western Screech Owl looks like a miniature version of the Great Horned Owl. This species is about the size of a red-winged black bird and is one of the only small owls with prominent “ear tufts” or “horns”. It has large yellow eyes, gray to brown plumage that resembles tree bark and a dark border surrounding its facial disc. The Western Screech Owl can be distinguished from the Eastern Screech Owl by its black or gray beak.

Hunting: This species hunts from a perch, and may often be seen hunting moths attracted by streetlights.

Prey: These owls prefer to eat small mammals, such as wood mice, but also have a taste for large insects and other birds.

Breeding: This species prefers to nest in cavities, such as old woodpecker holes in deciduous trees. However, it may also be found nesting in certain species of cactus and close to the main stem of heavily foliated deciduous and coniferous tree species. Clutches contain 3 to 7 eggs, which are incubated over a period of approximately 26 days. The young owls fledge within 30 days of hatching.

Range: This species is primarily found in woodlands and open forests. It is also commonly makes appearances in suburban parks and yards, deserts and riparian areas. It may be found as far north as Southeastern Alaska, with a Southern range extending into Mexico, and can be found throughout the Rockies at its farthest eastern reaches.

Status: The Western Screech Owl is considered common and is not listed by the California Department of Fish and Game as rare, threatened or endangered.