Western Screech Owl

The Western Screech owl (Megascops kennicottii) is a small owl with fluffy, gray or reddish brown plumage that often camouflages the owl when resting in a tree. Their facial discs are gray or reddish brown with black outlining. There are two different phases of adults. The first is the gray phase. Owls that have the gray-phase coloring are very light gray in color if found in the southwest, and will be darker in color and browner if living in the northwest. The facial discs of these owls are off-white with gray-brown. They have vertical stripes, bars and spots on their belly and under their wings, and have barring ont heir wings and tail. The second phase is the red phase, which is a rare bird to spot. It is darker and is more reddish brown or cinnamon in color than gray. He red-phase adult has spotting on its breast.

This owl is nocturnal, and is seen feeding in the woodlands of western North America, specifically in the Pacific northwest and dry southwest. Its distribution ranges from southeastern Alaska, southern British Columbia, western United States and south through Baja California and parts of Mexico. It lives in red cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir forests, and also Sitka spruce forests near bodies of water and riparian woodlands. It prays upon small rodents and deer mice, insects, small birds, shrews, kangaroo rats and others in open woodlands where open fields or wetlands are plentiful. This owl nests in tree cavities found naturally in deciduous trees like oaks, maples and will use abandoned Pileated Woodpecker cavities as well. During mating season, the owls will call to each other and are often see preening each other’s heads and beaks. The female will lay between 3-4 eggs.

Threats to this owl include Great Horned owls, Barred owls, Long-Eared owls, raccoons, squirrels and snakes, among others. Due to their preferred habitat locations around riparian areas, much of their habitat is being threatened by tree removal. They are adaptable in that they can live in city parks if necessary.