|Conservation status||Widespread and common, but has declined in some areas because of habitat loss.|
|Habitat||Wooded canyons, desert mesquites, farm groves, shade trees. Found in a wide variety of wooded or semi-open habitats, including forest edge, wooded suburbs, canyons, mesquite groves and saguaros in the desert, streamside groves in arid country. Mostly in deciduous or mixed woods. Avoids extreme desert situations and higher elevations in mountains.|
Forages at dusk and at night. Hunts mostly by watching from a perch and then swooping down to take prey from the ground or from foliage. Also catches flying insects in the air. Can locate prey by sound as well as by sight.
2-5, sometimes 6. White. Incubation is mostly or entirely by female, averages about 26 days. Male brings food to female during incubation. Young: Both parents bring food for young. If intruders (including humans) come too close to nest, adults may attack or may put on distraction display. Young leave nest about 4 weeks after hatching, are cared for by parents for some time thereafter.
Both parents bring food for young. If intruders (including humans) come too close to nest, adults may attack or may put on distraction display. Young leave nest about 4 weeks after hatching, are cared for by parents for some time thereafter.
Mostly small mammals and large insects. Diet varies with habitat and region. Includes many beetles, moths, other insects, as well as spiders, scorpions, centipedes; also many small mammals, such as mice, voles, pocket gophers. Also eats small birds, lizards, snakes, frogs, fish.
Courtship displays of male while perched include bowing, clicking bill. Male brings food to female. Mated pairs preen each other's feathers, call in duet. Nest site is in cavity in tree, pole, or giant cactus, typically in old woodpecker hole but also in natural hollows in trees. May also use old magpie nests. Sites usually 5-35' above ground.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Permanent resident throughout its range.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsAn accelerating "bouncing ball" series of 6-8 low whistles, often dropping in pitch toward the end. Also a quick series on 1 pitch.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Western Screech-Owl
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Western Screech-Owl
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.