Western Screech Owl
    (Kennicotts' Screech-Owl)

Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Otus
Species: kennicotti

La. strix, strigis  owl
La. forma  form, shape, kind
Gr. otis  buzzard with long ear
La. kennicotti  for naturalist
      Robert Kennicott

Western Screech Owls, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917
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.

USGS Western Screech Owl Map

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 day.

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.

An owl's fluffy feather edges reduce the noise of flight. Many neighbors are unaware of the Screech Owl's presence until the bird swoops like a

Screech Owl, R. Bruce Horsfall, Bird Friends, Gilbert H. Trafton, 1916
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.

They 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 population

50birds Designs include several Screech Owl Houses. The Western Screech Owl Nestbox (same as for Eastern Screech Owl, Kestrel and Barrow's Goldeneye) ha
s 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.

Species Nestbox Dimensions for Kestrel, Eastern Screech Owl, Western Screech Owl & Barrow's Goldeneye
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.


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