Western Screech-Owl

Otus kennicottii
Range Map

The Western Screech Owl is a bird of low elevation woodlands and the deserts of northwestern Mexico, the southwestern United States, and along the Pacific coast of North America. They are resident throughout their range.

These birds are fierce and versatile predators. They will take prey larger than themselves, such as rabbits, or as small as earthworms. Their preferred habitat is in lower elevation coniferous or deciduous woodlands. They are well adapted to suburban areas if suitable woods are nearby.

Modern science recognises nine subspecies of Western Screech-Owl:

  • M. k. kennicottii lives in the Pacific Northwest, from southeastern Alaska to southern Oregon.
  • M. k. macfarlanei lives in the Great Basin region east of the Cascade Range from southern British Columbia, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana.
  • M. k. bendirei lives along the Pacific Coast from south-central Oregon and northwestern California south to southwestern California.
  • M. k. cardonensis lives in northwestern Baja California.
  • M. k. aikeni lives in western Texas north and west to Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California east of the Sierra Nevada range.
  • M. k. yumanensis lives in the deserts of the lower Colorado River valley from western Arizona and southeastern California to northeastern Baja California.
  • M. k. suttoni lives in the Central Plateau of Mexico.
  • M. k. xantusi lives on the southern Baja California peninsula (Mexico).
  • M. k. vinaceus lives in northern Mexico.

My ears have met more Western Screech Owls than my eyes. The only wild bird that I’ve captured with my camera was along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque (New Mexico).

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