The Western Screech Owl is a small gray owl (8 - 10 inches) marked with black streaks and thin bands.
It is the only small owl with ear tufts. It has yellow eyes and a dark bill. Adults and young are similar. (The Eastern Screech
Owl has a light bill.)
Like most owls, this bird is nocturnal. Its descending wailing call is heard at night. Keen eyesight and
noiseless flight enable the Screech Owl to prey on field rodents, small birds, frogs, fish and insects. It is a permanent
resident throughout its range.
The female lays 3-5 white unmarked (1.4 x 1.3 inches) eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 26 days.
The fledging period is around 28 days, during which time the young are fed by both parents. They continue to be fed by the
adults for several weeks after they leave the nest, which is found in the hollow of a tree (5-50 feet up), cranny, nook or
building. This little owl is quite common in open woodlands, streamside groves, desert, suburban areas and parks. Its range
includes southeast Alaska, southern Canada to central Mexico.
The Eastern Screech Owl (Otus asio) overlaps with the Western in a small part of western Texas; the gray
phase of the Eastern is practically identical to the Western but has a different call: a tremulous mournful descending wail.