• Barn Owl
    Barn
  • Barred Owl
    Barred
  • Boreal Owl
    Boreal
  • Burrowing Owl
    Burrowing
  • Eastern Screech Owl
    Eastern Screech
  • Elf Owl
    Elf
  • Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
    Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
  • Flammulated Owl
    Flammulated
  • Great Grey Owl
    Great Grey
  • Great Horned Owl
    Great Horned
  • Long Eared Owl
    Long-Eared
  • Northern Hawk Owl
    Northern Hawk
  • Northern Pygmy Owl
    Northern Pygmy
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl
    Northern Saw-whet
  • Short-eared Owl
    Short-Eared
  • Snowy Owl
    Snowy
  • Spotted Owl
    Spotted
  • Western Screech Owl
    Western Screech
  • Western Screech Owl
    Whiskered Screech Owl

WESTERN SCREECH OWL (Megascops kennicotti)

Western Screech OwlOwls make lots of unusual noises; they hoot, toot, scream, bark, hiss, and screech. So of course the Screech Owl must be the “screecher”, right? Not necessarily. 

There are three species of Screech Owls in North America and only one is known for its screech. However, the unique voices of the Screech Owls do play an important role in distinguishing the three species from one another.

Though the three species may look similar, to a trained ear, the call of the Western Screech Owl sounds quite different than that of the Eastern or Whiskered Screech Owl. The double trill and soft hooting of the Western Screech Owl is often heard in riparian areas, this owl’s habitat of choice. Riparian areas are the forested areas along rivers and streams. These zones are rich with life, filled with reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, and small mammals- all favored prey of this owl.

Western Screech Owls can be found in other areas where these food sources are abundant; they may be found in forests and deserts too, but one thing is for sure- Western Screech Owls are only found “out west”.

Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

  • A small, grayish owl with yellow eyes, dark beak, and small ear tufts

    Males: usually gray, with darker streaks on its chest; white wing bars, white streak on shoulders

    Females: similar to male

    Young: more gray-brown, less distinct barring
  • Height: Males 19-23cm (7.5-9.1 in), Females 21-25cm (8.3-9.8 in)

    Weight: Males 131g (4.6 oz), Females 157g (5.5 oz)

    Wingspan Both: 55-62cm (21.6-24.4 in)

  • Range: western North America, from southeast Alaska through western Mexico; east to Texas and Oklahoma

    Habitat: mostly riparian areas; also forests and deserts

  • Variety of small animals including: insects, reptiles, amphibians, crayfish, small mammals, small birds
  • Male and female will often sing duet of short notes on one pitch

    Males: series of 5-15 soft hoots; double trill, one short, one long; “bouncing-ball” rhythm

    Females: higher pitched than male



  • Nest Site: cavity nester, often in holes made by Flickers; will use nest boxes

    Eggs: 3-7 eggs, laid asynchronously

    Incubation: 26 days
  • Nocturnal, begins foraging shortly after sunset; sits and waits for prey, will also forage on the ground for worms

Western Screech Owl Range Map

Western Screech Owl Range Map

Western Screech Owl Audio

Western Screech Owl Facts

Other Names: Kennicott’s Screech owl, Vinaceous Screech Owl
Family: Strigidae
Closest Relative: Eastern Screech Owl, Whiskered Screech Owl

Conservation Status

Not globally threatened; suffers from habitat loss as riparian areas are developed.

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