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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Western Screech-Owl


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A common small owl of the West, the Western Screech-Owl can be found in urban as well as wild lands.

Yard Map Birds Eye View
Birds of North America Online


Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • A small owl.
  • Feathered ear tufts.
  • Gray or gray-brown with small black streaks on feathers.

Immature Description

Like adult.

Range Map Help

Western Screech-Owl Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp


    Western Screech-Owl

    • Small, compact gray owl
    • Bold black streaks on breast with thinner horizontal bars
    • "Ear" tufts occasionally hidden on crown
    • © Jackie Bowman, New Mexico, February 2015

    Western Screech-Owl

    • Small, stocky, gray owl
    • "Ear" tufts usually visible
    • Bold black streaks on breast with thinner, more subtle "crosshatches"
    • © CVBirder, Cache County, Utah, January 2013
  • Adult

    Western Screech-Owl

    • Small and stocky owl
    • Mostly gray, paler on breast
    • Thick black streaks scattered on breast with thinner horizontal "crosshatches"
    • © Janice L, Tualatin River NWR, Oregon, February 2011

Similar Species

  • Eastern Screech-Owl has thicker streaks on chest feathers and paler bill.
  • Whiskered Screech-Owl has more orange eyes, and yellowish bill.

    Backyard Tips

    Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.