The Western Screech Owl
A Western Screech-Owl is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Western Screech Owls. We have also put together a list of fun Western Screech Owl t-shirts, Western Screech Owl bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Western Screech Owls
The Western Screech-Owl is a small owl found in North America specifically, the northern and central regions. The Owl is closely related to the European scops owl and almost looks the same. They are nocturnal like any other owl species. Their numbers are decreasing but still remain common and widespread in North America. The decrease is attributed to the loss of habitat due to modernization.
Description and Identification
Western Screech-Owls have a variety of morphs, ranging from brown morphs, gray morphs,
Mexican morphs, and Mojave morphs. However, there are only two morphs that are usually
seen in the united states, these being brown and gray morphs. The gray morphs have brown-
gray facial discs, which are paler in shade with lighter pale eyebrows compared to the
surrounding plumage and therefore are not very evident. They have bright yellow eyes and
black-gray bills. The crown and upperparts are gray-brown in color with the underparts being
paler in color as compared to the upper parts. Brown morphs have a similar physical appearance
with the exception of the plumage being more rufous-brown in color. In terms of their voice,
their primary call can be described as a series of short whistles, often compared to the sound of
ping-pong balls, with the tempo increasing towards the end of the call. True to their name they
also make a high-pitched screech.
Western Screech Owl Color Pattern
The bird can either have a dark gray or brown plumage with streaking on its underparts. The colors are the same for the Western Screech Owl morphs. They include the Gray Pacific, Brown pacific, Mojave, Great Plains, and the Mexican.
Western Screech Owl Size
With its length averaged at 22cm, the Western Screech Owl is a fairly small bird unlike other types of birds in the Megascops family. Its wingspan is 55cm and has an average weight of 143g. The weight ranges from a minimum of 88g to a maximum of 220g.
Western Screech Owl Behavior
Bird watching for this particular bird can be tricky as it is a nocturnal animal. The owl’s call is an accelerating series of short whistles with an increasing tempo. They hunt in the woods and deserts of the western regions of North America either at dusk, night or dawn.
You could find them on low perches waiting to pounce on their prey. They use their excellent hearing and sight to make kills in vivid night light.
Western Screech Owl Food
Alike most other owls, Western Screech Owls are nocturnal and prefer to hunt in the dark, but
unlike other owls, the Western Screech-Owls prefer to hunt their prey from the air rather than
from a perch. Once they spot their prey, they swoop down from the air silently catching the
unsuspecting prey. They typically feed on small rodents such as mice, rats, etc. as well as large
insects. They are also known to feed on small birds from time to time.
The Western Screech Owl often feeds on small mammals and large insects but the diet varies with their habitat and region. Insects include spiders, large moths, scorpions, centipedes, and beetles. Mammals comprise voles, mice and pocket gophers. Sometimes, they will eat lizards, snakes, frogs, and small birds.
Western Screech Owl Habitat
Western Screech-Owls typically reside in forests that include tropical, subtropical forests and,
temperate forests. In these forests, their choice of trees includes humid Douglas-firs, western red
cedars, and western hemlocks. These birds also inhabit shrublands, deserts, rural fields, as well
as suburban gardens.
They can be found in wooded canyons, farm groves, shade trees, and desert mesquites. They nest in tree cavities made by woodpeckers. The owl avoids high elevations and extreme desert conditions.
Range and Migration
Western Screech-Owls have a large distribution in North and Central America. Preferring the
Western parts of the continent, they are found in Alaska, Northern Canada, Western United
States, down to Mexico. In Canada, they mainly reside in British Columbia. In the United States,
they cover the entirety of the Western parts of the country starting from Washington, Idaho, to
Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, also covering the western parts
of Texas. In Mexico their habitats and territories can be found all the way from the North of the
country, continuing into the center and go up to Mexico City and its surroundings. Western
Screech Owls do not migrate and are sedentary all year round in their territories.
Western Screech Owl Life Cycle
Female lay 2-5 eggs and incubate them for about 26 days. The young leave the nest four weeks after hatching but the parents will still continue caring for them for some time. The bird can live up to 8 years in the wild and even more when in captivity.
Western Screech Owl Nesting
Western Screech-Owls typically use holes in trees or cacti that were left open by woodpeckers.
Nesting season customarily begins in February or sometimes earlier in the Southern population.
The males start singing at dusk to attract the females into their territories. Once a pair is formed,
on average the female lays 3-4 eggs inside the nest. Females tend to incubate eggs while the
males forage for food and bring it to the nest. Pairs are formed for life and the nests are often
reused in the next nesting seasons.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Western Screech Owls
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Western Screech Owls are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Western Screech Owl T-shirts
If you love the Western Screech Owl you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Western Screech Owl Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Western Screech-Owl is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Western Screech Owl Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Western Screech Owl. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Western Screech Owl
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Western Screech Owl
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.