Western Screech Owl
La. strix, strigis owl
La. forma form, shape, kind
Gr. otis buzzard with long ear
La. kennicotti for naturalist
Louis Agassiz Fuertes
|A little larger than the Eastern Screech
Owl, about eleven inches long and having basically the same color variations: rusty red
with light and dark brown or black streaks, or gray with black steaks and a fine yellowish
tint and variations in between. White undersides with crossed black streaks.
Conspicuous ear tufts and black circles around yellow eyes.
Some of the older
literature includes western North America as a residency of Otus asio, the Eastern
Screech Owl. The two birds must have been considered alike enough in habits and plummage
to be grouped as one. The "Birds of America" index attributes the above
illustration to both birds.
Western Screech Owls inhabit Northwest forests, groves, farms and wooded towns, often near water, from
southeast Alaska, western Canada and the U.S. west of the Great Plains to Mexico.
Builds scanty nests of sticks, feathers and chips in natural or
abandoned tree cavities, on rocky ledges, in farm sheds and bird boxes from waist level up
to twenty five feet high.
Lays up to four white eggs which hatch after about four
weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another month.
Night hunters of
mice, insects, frogs, snakes, lizards, crayfish and fish, they usually keep out of site
during the day. They stir up a commotion among song birds if they venture out during the
The screech owl is more closely associated
with man's activities than other owls due to the abundance of prey, numerous nesting and
roosting sites, and reduced competition in urban areas.
fluffy feather edges reduce the noise of flight. Many neighbors are unaware of
the Screech Owl's presence until the bird swoops like a
shadow toward an intruder,
hooting and snapping its bill as it pulls up in the last second.
Since ancient times the owl or those who encounter it have
been regarded as unlucky, a superstition perpetuated in particular by the Screech Owls
proximity to people, its nocturnal nature and its eerie shivering, descending wail.
have been made into pets, although it is best for all observed in its own. Left
to its choice the Screech Owl is a good neighbor controlling the local mice
50birds Designs include several Screech Owl Houses. The Western Screech Owl Nestbox (same as for Eastern Screech Owl, Kestrel and Barrow's Goldeneye) has
a 8" by 8" floor, 15" inside ceiling, 3" diameter entrance hole located 12"
above the floor and ventilation openings. Assembled with corrosion resistant
screws fit to pre-drilled countersunk pilot holes. Hinged roof is secured
with shutter hooks for easy access.
Mount out of reach (10 feet or higher)
near woodland edges or clearings, small tree stands or under the eave of a farm
out building within moderate distance of wetlands.
Western Screech Owl
Nest Box Plans
Face south so they can sun themselves
through the hole in winter. Place some wood chips on the floor. Squirrels may
use this box.