Western screech owls are small nocturnal birds with bright yellow eyes and grey and red-brown plumage that looks like a beard.
Range & Habitat
These particular owls are found most commonly in B.C. on southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, but are also spotted from Alaska to Baja California.
Diet & Behaviour
Western screech owls nest in trees, buildings, vines and cliffs below 500 metres elevation. Their hooting can be heard from February when mating season begins and is most often a muted “hoo…oo…oo” (like a bouncing ball). Their favourite foods are rodents, insects and small birds. When threatened, western screech owls tighten their feathers and stretch out to look like a branch end to avoid being found.
Lifecycle & Threats
Most screech owls lay two or three eggs. The incubation period is about 26 days and the fledgling period is about 35 days. Goshawks, hawks, other owls (even other screech owls), and carnivorous mammals prey on screech owls. The western screech owl needs open woodlands for nesting and hunting; many of these areas have been logged or used for agriculture.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Alexandra MacKenzie