Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Tim Avery
Photo Copyright Tim Avery

The western screech-owl, Megascops kennicottii, is a widespread resident (nonmigratory) species in the western United States. Its range extends from southeastern Alaska to Mexico, and eastward to the Texas Panhandle in the south, and to western Montana in the north. The western screech-owl is commonly found in suburban and urban areas, such as woodlots, orchards, oak woodlands, and riparian woodlands. It is a fairly common resident in Utah, where it can be found along streamside areas and occasionally in city trees. The diet of the western screech-owl varies by location, but includes prey items such as insects, small mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes. The western screech-owl is nocturnal; individuals wait until after dusk to begin hunting for prey.

Western screech-owls compete with other species for nest cavities in trees or large cacti. The male mates with one female; the female then lays and incubates two to five eggs. Incubation lasts for 21 to 30 days, during which time the male feeds the female. The parents often share the nest cavity during the day. Hatchlings emerge immobile and with closed eyes. Parents share care-taking duties until the young leave the nest, about 28 days after hatching.


  • Peterson, R. T. 1966. A field guide to western birds, second edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

  • Behle, W. H., Sorensen, E. D. and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, Occasional Publication No. 4. Salt Lake City, UT.

  • Biological and Conservation Database. 2000. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and the Association for Biodiversity Information.