Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Elf Owl

(Image Source)
Elf Owls (Micrathene whitneyi) are very small Owls that live in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Their habitats include riparian woodlands, brushland, and desert. Nests are often built within old Woodpecker-created cavities, and are found in either trees or large, saguaro cacti. They are nocturnal birds, and possess excellent eyesight and hearing.

Elf Owls are one of the smallest of the Owl species, growing to about the size of a sparrow. They measure about 5in (13cm) long, and sport a 9in (23cm) wingspan. Elf Owls have rounded heads with no ear tufts, and sport greyish-brown plumage and white "eyebrows." They are also identified by their distinctive vocalizations.

Due to their size, Elf Owls hunt only very small prey- almost exclusively arthropods. They do most of their capturing while in mid-flight, as they are very agile flyers.  Prey is then brought back to a perch, torn apart, and consumed.  Elf Owls themselves have numerous predators, including other Owls, Coyotes, and Snakes. They built their nests as high up as possible in order to keep away from danger.

Loss of Habitat has decreased the population in some areas, and the Elf Owl is now listed as endangered in the state of California. Reintroduction efforts have been ongoing throughout their range.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great example of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. I drew a picture of an Elf Owl right this morning. X)

    ReplyDelete

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