Whiskered Screech-Owl

Whiskered screech owl

Whiskered Screech-Owls are small owls that have rounded heads and short ear tufts. They have large, yellow eyes and long whiskers at the base of their grayish-yellow hooked bill. Their legs and feet are feathered. 

The Whiskered Screech-Owl is often mistaken for the Western Screech-Owl because they look very similar. However, the Whiskered Screech-Owl is smaller in size and has thicker vertical stripes on its belly.  

They have dark-gray and reddish-brown morphs.

  • Megascops trichopsis
  • Length:  6.5 – 8 in (17 – 20 cm)
  • Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
  • Wingspan: 17.5 in (44 cm)


Whiskered Screech-Owls do not migrate and are resident all year in Mexico and across the border into southwestern US states.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Whiskered Screech-Owls in dense pine-oak woodlands at 5,249 feet (1,600 meters) elevation. They also inhabit canyons with groves of sycamores which may be near oak woodlands. You may see them with Western Screech-Owls when they go to lower elevations during winter. 

Whiskered Screech-Owls usually forage between branches of trees for insects, like grasshoppers, praying mantises, crickets, beetles, moths, and caterpillars. They will also hunt their prey from their perch or capture them in flight. 

Whiskered Screech-Owl Calls:

They make a long series of fast hoots.


Nests of Whiskered Screech-Owls are often in abandoned woodpecker holes, empty tree cavities, or holes in cacti.

They may also stay in nest boxes with the appropriate entrance and about 10 to 30 feet above the ground. 

The female lays around two to four eggs and incubates them by herself. During this time, the male supports her by feeding her and defending their territory. Once the eggs hatch, the female will also join in the hunt for food. 

Fun Fact:

The Whiskered Screech-Owl is also called the Arizona Whiskered Owl, Spottech Screech-Owl, and Whiskered Owl. Its whiskers define it because they’re longer and denser than any other owl.