Elf Owl

Micrathene whitneyi

Order

STRIGIFORMES

Family

True Owls (Strigidae)

Code 4

ELOW

Code 6

MICWHI

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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Copyright © 2004 - 2014 Mitch Waite Group

PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Elf Owl is currently classified as Least Concern. The prior rating for the Elf Owl was Lower Risk. This rating was changed in 2000 to Least Concern due to no current evidence which would suggest that the population of the Elf Owl is nearing decline or has declined over the past few years or generations. The range of the Elf Owl is fairly large, spanning nearly 600,000 square kilometers. The population of the Elf Owl is almost 200,000 individual birds within its native range. The Elf Owl is native to Mexico and the United States.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Elf Owl: Small owl, gray-brown body heavily mottled white and cinnamon-brown. Round head lacks ear tufts; facial disk bordered by thin, black line. Eyes are pale yellow highlighted by white eyebrows. Wings are long. Bristly feathers sparsely cover feet and legs. Tail is short with 3 to 5 pale bars.


Range and Habitat

Elf Owl: Breeds in southwest U.S. and northern Mexico. Winters in central and southern Mexico. A resident population occurs on the southern Baja Peninsula. Preferred habitats include deserts, thorn scrub, and mesquite or deciduous riparian woodlands; most abundant in deserts dominated by giant saguaro.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"CHU-ur-ur-ur", "cheeur"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The first published report of the Elf Owl was by James Graham Cooper in 1861. They have also been called Texas Elf Owl, Whitney's Elf Owl, and Dwarf Owl.
  • Their breeding success is the highest of any reported for North American Owls, with 70% of all eggs fledging. This high rate of success may be due to the difficulty that predators have in reaching nests, which are often in cacti.
  • They are the smallest owls in the world, and when captured, they will play opossum until sure that all danger has passed.
  • A group of owls has many collective nouns, including a "bazaar", "glaring", "parliament", "stooping", and "wisdom" of owls.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Elf Owl

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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RiparianX
Relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater. 
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X