This owl nests in woodpecker cavities in cacti and deciduous trees. Often times the woodpecker cavities are not abandoned, thus raising competition between the owl and woodpecker. They lay 1-5 white eggs in April or May. During incubation the female may go off to hunt at dusk while the male incubates the eggs.
The Elf owl is found in Southwest USA to Central Mexico and Baja California. It inhabits arid deserts with many cacti, riparian woodlands, tablelands, woody habitats, canyons, plateaus, mountain slopes and deserts with a high occurrence of giant saguaro cacti. It is a nocturnal bird with bat-like flight that predates upon small, weak prey like insects, grasshoppers, caterpillars, cicadas and scorpions. Their diet consists mostly of insects either that are resting on tree branches or on the ground. They forage for insects from the ground. Once they have caught the insect, they bring it back to a tree branch where they tear it apart to eat it. Predators include large mammals that can reach the cavities of the trees.