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Western Screech-Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

 The Western Screech-Owl is a very common resident in much of the Western U.S., Canada and Mexico and is often the most abundant night predator in its range. Here you will find video, photos, recordings and a brief field notes section to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. A more in depth write up and range map can be found in its natural history page (the Biology link). To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below.

Page Jump Links:
Photo Gallery
Additional photos
Audio Recordings
Field Notes
Biology

Streaming Real Video Clips

Western Screech-Owl
Limestone Canyon, California
December 2001

PHOTO GALLERY
Click on the thumbnail to bring up each of the Owl photos.

Western Screech-Owl Photo

76K

Western Screech-Owl Photo

99K

Western Screech-Owl Photo

124K

Yosemite,
California
May 2002

Paso Robles,
California
October 1999
Santa Ana Mtns,
California
December 1999

Western Screech-Owl Photo

89K

Western Screech-Owl Photo

93K

Western Screech-Owl Photo

113K
Aliso/Woods Canyon,
California
February 2002
Southern Baja California
Mexico
February 2001
Trabuco Canyon,
California
June 2005

Additional Photos

Photo 5
109K

Photo 6
116K

Photo7
121K

Photo 8
98K

Photo 9
140K

Photo 10
123K

RECORDINGS
Click on the sonograms to bring up each of the recordings.

Sound File
73K
Paso Robles,
California
August 1999

Sound File
55K
Paso Robles,
California
August 1999

Sound File
119K
Paso Robles,
California
August 1999

This is the primary territorial call most frequently heard in the field.   The double note is a primary call although not as frequently heard. This is generally associated with an excited owl. A pair of owls, very excited, "talking" to each other. This is a male/female pair.

FIELD NOTES
Western Screech-Owl - Megascops (Otus) kennicottii

Separation in the field, of the Screech-Owls, is actually only feasible by voice. The Western Screech-Owl can be distinguished with his primary "bouncing-ball" (territorial) call. This is a common owl in the west. The sexes are alike in appearance although male and female can be distinguished by voice. The ear tufts may or may not be visible in the field. Color varies but most commonly they are gray to brownish (a rare red form is also in costal British Columbia and Alaska). The bill is almost always black and the eyes are yellow. Length is 8 1/2" (about the size of a Red-winged Blackbird). A nocturnal owl.

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