Western screech owls are a common small owl of the West. They can be found in urban areas, suburban parks, residential areas, as well as wild lands. Screech owls have a bit of a misnomer as they actually don’t make a “screeching” noise. Their call is a descending series of whistled notes that ends with a short trill. These crepuscular hunters are most active just after sunset, mainly hunting small mammals and insects. They have been known to take down prey larger than themselves, but being so small, they fall prey to other predators such as hawks, skunks, snakes, and larger owls. They are cavity nesters with well-adapted camouflage to look just like the bark of a tree. They live in riparian habitats and although they are not an endangered species, urban development has displaced many Western screech owls from their preferred habitat.
Description: Square head with almost no neck; conspicuous ear tufts; short tail; base color can be grayish, brownish, or reddish-brown (rufous); upperparts flecked with white; breast and belly are pale with dark, spidery streaks; face is pale, outlined with dark arcs; yellow eyes
- Call is an accelerating series of hollow toots
- Socially monogamous – pairs raise young together, although both sexes may also mate outside the pair
- During courtship and mating, pairs sing duets, and the male presents food to the female
- Male provides almost all the food for the female and young during nesting