Western Screech Owl
On August 5, 2011 Tehama Wild Care admitted a young Western Screech Owl that had suffered an injured left wing due to vehicular collision near a busy road. The vet's exam showed that there were no breaks or dislocations and it was believed to be possibly a soft-tissue injury that would heal with time. But as time went by, the wing showed no improvement in mobility.
She transferred to WERC on August 29 for evaluation as an educational animal. Since she wasn't able to fly at all, staff needed to make sure that she was able to ambulate on her own. This was a critical issue as it was important that the owl be able to right herself if she toppled onto her back and to ensure that she doesn't step onto and impale her bad wing with her talons. Owlivia officially joined WERC's educational animal team in December 2011 and is now a member of the OWL team-Owlivia, Wally the Pygmy Owl, and Luna the Great Horned Owl.
Screech Owl Facts
Otus: Latin "horned-owl"kennicotti: in honor of Robert Kennicott, an American explorer and naturalist (1835-1866)
Height: 8"-10" Wingspan: 18"-24" Weight: 3.2 oz (90 gm)
Voice: It does not screech. Its voice is a sound like an accelerating "bouncing ball" series of 6-8 low whistles.
Habitat: A wide variety of habitats including woodlands, orchards, yards with many trees, associated with riparian habitats and deciduous trees. Also in urban and suburban parks and residential areas. They avoid dense forests where Great Horned Owls live and hunt.
Nesting: Monogamous. 4 or 5 white eggs in a natural cavity, a woodpecker's hole, or even a man-made nest box. 1 brood per year. Young fed by both parents.
Diet: Mostly small rodents; owls are opportunist eaters and also eat insects, other birds, crayfish, reptiles, amphibians. Occasionally takes prey larger than itself, including cottontail rabbits and Mallards.
Behavior: Nocturnal, with activity generally beginning 1 hour after sunset. Flight is noiseless with soft wingbeats and gliding. Hunts by sitting and waiting for "food" to appear. Owl is very aggressive when defending a nest site, and may attack humans.
Predators: Cooper's Hawks, larger owls, weasels, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, snakes, and crows.
Lifespan in the wild: 13 years
Range: Western Screech Owls can be found residing from southeastern Alaska and British Columbia southward into Mexico and east throughout U.S. Rockies; non-migratory.
Common names 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.
When threatened, the bird stretches its body, tightens its feathers, and extends its "horns" in order to look like a branch stub to avoid detection. Its coloration makes it blend perfectly into the texture and color of the tree bark.