Dot is a female Western Screech Owl (Megascops kennicottii,
formerly Otus kennicottii) who came to the WSU Veterinary Teaching
Hospital in the spring of 2007. She was probably hit by a car.
She is blind in her left eye and suffered from a left humeral fracture, and
cannot fly well enough to be released. She has an interesting
personality as she likes to "hoo-hoo-hoo" at our larger raptors, and she
will change shapes when she sees certain things.
Western Screech Owls tend to live in riparian and urban areas. They
like mixed coniferous and deciduous forests where they can stay hidden
easier with their grey and brown feathering. They also have small ear
tufts which they hold up when they are interested in something. These
ear tufts look like horns or actual ears but are only feathers that stand up
on the top of their heads.
Western Screech Owls are related to Eastern Screech Owls (Megascops asio)
but the bills of the Eastern Screech Owls are paler, while the Western
Screech Owls have bills that are grey to black. There is also the Whiskered
Screech Owl (Megascops trichopsis) which is found in southern Arizona on
into Mexico and is a bit smaller with orange eyes (instead of yellow) and
heavier barring on their belly. A common misconception about Screech
Owls is that they screech. This is not actually the case.
Instead, they will make a trilling "hoo-hoo-hoo" or a soft "cr-r-oo-oo-ooo..."
Western Screech Owls are strictly nocturnal and hunt only at night.
Their prey of choice is small rodents but they are opportunistic and will
also eat frogs, small fish, insects, bats, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.