8 Interesting Facts about the Western Screech Owl

I just recently came in contact with a Western Screech Owl for the first time. It was peering at me from inside of a nesting box. When I got a look at the photographs that I took, it wasn’t hard to see that the owl wasn’t too pleased with me being there.

A new bird to photograph means there is a new for me to read about and learn some interesting facts about. Here is what I found out about the Western Screech Owl

  • Common names for the Western Screech Owl include Little Horned Owl, Dusk Owl, Ghost Owl, Mouse Owl, Cat Owl, Little Cat Owl, Puget Sound Screech Owl, Washington Screech Owl, and Coastal Screech Owl.
  • The Western Screech Owl is native to Canada, United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.


  • The primary call of a Western Screech Owl 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 eastern screech owl. They also make a high pitched screech.
  • The Western Screech Owl is active at dawn, night or near dusk, using its excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as mice or rats, birds, and large insects; however they are opportunistic predators, even taking small trout at night.
  • The Western Screech Owl occasionally takes prey larger than itself, including cottontail rabbits and Mallards.
  • The Western Screech Owl nests in tree cavities and readily uses nesting boxes. It does not add nesting material to the cavity.
  • The hatching of the Western Screech Owl’s young is synchronized with the spring migration of birds. After migrants pass through, screech-owls prey on fledglings of local birds
  • When threatened, the Western Screech Owl will stretch its body and tighten its feathers in order to look like a branch stub. It becomes motionless if disturbed at roost, and can sometimes be caught by hand in this state.

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