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Western Screech Owl

Otus Kennincottii macfarlanei (interior)

This small owl has noticeable feather tuffs on the side of its head. Its brown/grey/white mottled feathers provide perfect camouflage. Sleeping in a hollow tree or dense shrubs during the day, you are not likely to spot them. At night, they wake to begin active hunting. Their tell-tale “bouncing ball” hoots will alert you to their presence.

where it lives

Western Screech-Owls prefer open deciduous or mixed forests, especially near water. These owls feed only at night on a wide assortment of prey including insects, fish, birds and even earthworms! Western Screech-Owls are rare in Lillooet but have been found in the Xaxli’p Community Forest (Fountain Creek) as well as lower Cayoosh Creek and along the Fraser River to Lytton.

conservation concern

Western Screech-Owls are Blue-listed in BC, which means they are a Threatened owl species. Their populations are in decline as a result of habitat destruction, mostly. Screech-Owls are specialists of low elevation forests in BC. This means you can only find them in deep, wide valleys of southern BC, such as the Fraser Canyon. Screech-Owls usually pick the largest tree in the forest as their nesting tree. Without these large trees, they do not have the protection to raise raise their chicks during the breeding season. Slow to breed, Screech-Owls do not recover easily from population declines.

What you can do

If you live in suitable habitat for Screech Owls, consider constructing a nesting box for them. Nest boxes have been proven to be used by Screech Owls on Vancouver Island. Learn how to build your own owl nest box here!

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