Western Screech-Owl

Megascops kennicottii




Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

2 - 6

Incubation Days:

21 - 30

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

In cottonwoods, large willows, junipers, and saguaro cacti.

Nest Material:

Cavity nester. Use cavities in cliffs, natural tree cavities and old woodpecker holes.





Western Screech-Owl: Small owl (kennicotti), with distinct ear tufts, brown- or gray-mottled upperparts, white spots on shoulders, and streaked and barred underparts. Facial disk is lightly mottled and has prominent dark rim. Eyes are bright yellow and bill is dark gray. Sexes are similar. Juvenile may be downy.

Range and Habitat

Western Screech-Owl: Common resident in much of the western U.S., Canada, and Mexico in a variety of habitats. Range extends from extreme southern Alaska and coastal British Columbia south through the western states and into much of Mexico. Preferred habitats include open woods, especially oak, mixed pine/oak, and sycamore.

Breeding and Nesting

Western Screech-Owl: Nests in a tree cavity, usually 6 to 20 feet above ground; readily uses suitable nest boxes. Two to six white eggs are laid on natural sawdust on the floor of the cavity. Female incubates for 21 to 30 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Western Screech-Owl: Diet largely consists of insects, small mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, and crayfish. Nocturnal, usually begins foraging 45 minutes after sundown and returns to daytime roost within 30 minutes of sunrise; drops from perch to capture prey.


Western Screech-Owl: Most common call is a mellow, muted trill "hoo-hoo-hoo" that speeds up at the end but maintains a constant pitch. Secondary song is a double trill of rapid bursts. Others include a soft "cr-r-oo-oo-oo-oo" given as a greeting, and a sharp bark given when excited.

Similar Species

Western Screech-Owl: Whiskered Screech-Owl is smaller, has darker-patterned underparts, and paler bill. Flammulated Owl has dark eyes.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X