The Western Screech Owl is about 22 cm (8.5 in.) tall, has a wingspan of 51 cm (20 in.), and weighs about 150 grams (5 oz.). The females are usually larger than the males. Its plumage is brown or dark grey, with streaking on the underparts. It has a round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes, and a yellowish bill. Since its appearance is very similar to that of the Whiskered Screech, it is better to identify it by its call.
The primary call is an accelerating series of short whistles at an increasing tempo, or a short, then long trill falling slightly at end. Other calls include barking and chuckling, similar to the Eastern.
Range and Habitat
The Western Screech Owl is native to Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatamela, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Its habitat includes temperate forests, subtropical and tropical montane forests, shrubland, desert, rural fields and gardens, and even suburban parks and gardens.
Western Screech Owls are permanent residents of western North and Central America, breeding in open woods, or mixed woods at forest edges. They often use holes in tree cavities or cactus that were excavated by woodpeckers.
These birds wait on perches to swoop down on unsuspecting prey; they may also catch insects in flight. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds, and large insects. They are active at night or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey.