Western Screech Owl photo by Andrew Schopieray

Western Screech Owl

This owl has small, wide-set feather tufts that often lead finders to think this is a "baby great horned owl"; large, yellow eyes; streaked underparts (w/ horizontal black barring in the juveniles changing to irregular vertical streaks in adult plumage); very well camouflaged for its day-time roosts against the trunks of trees; biggest of the little owls.


Meet our resident Western Screech Owls:

Opa was found in June 2005, when she was about 3 weeks old. She had a badly infected and ulcerated eye, which had to be surgically removed. Such an injury might have been from a fall, from an attack by a crow, jay or other bird, or even in play or competition with a sibling. Although an adult nocturnal owl that loses sight in one eye may be able to survive, it would be very difficult for a youngster to become proficient enough at hunting to learn to fend for itself with this handicap. Being socialized to people at such a young age, however, has helped her transition to life in human care, and made her comfortable here at Cascades Raptor Center. Opa has been a valuable member of the Education Team since 2005. Opa is part of the training as enrichment team. 

Adoptive "Parents" of Opa:

Tony, Sasha, Vivi, Tina & Lucie - In memory of our wise and wonderful Opa
Val Racette  •  With love for Karen Leigh and Keith Oldham  •  Robert Coache  
Lillian and Lucy Hagen  •  Jeanie Stuntzner  •  Sarah Reiley
MarDee Hansen  •  James & Pamela Gorski  •  Kenny & Margot Helphand
Trish, Jim, Sophie, Eva & Alex Lagrant  •  Denise Egri & Serge Faumont
Ursula McCabe  •  Kelsey & Abigail Minor

Ravi, female by size, was the sole survivor in her nest when the tree was cut down during logging. She was so young when humans brought her home to care for her that she became a ‘human imprint.’ An imprint is highly socialized to people. They actually look to humans as mates and can even become extremely aggressive when other humans are perceived as competitors. Birds that are flying to people in trust or attacking them as interlopers will not survive long in the wild. Ravi was two months old when she was brought to Cascades Raptor Center in July 2005. She is one of the favorites on the Education Team. Ravi is part of the outreach team.

Adoptive "Parents" of Ravi:

Barbara Clark  •  Shawn Martin  •  Josh Turnbull   •  Juniper Jefferson
Michael H Herz  •  Bea and Giacomo Giustina •  Brooke Carroll
Peter Curtis  •  Alex Samole  •  Brian & Poplyn Dykstra & Shannon Wilhite 
Johan Ahlandsberg •  Jason Dunbar & Diviny Trudell  •  Mariah Pupke & Kyle Finnerty
Larry Hite  •  Shannon Rose  •  Girl Scout Troop #20395  •  Betty Sparks
Willa Pekin  •  Stacy Karth  •  Simone Hunter  •  Sidne Horton  •  Gabriela Lopez
Washington Park Zoo Tuesday Birders  •  Donna DeBonis  •  Wendy Cadieux
Christien Bradt  •  Patrick Leahy  •  Julie Griggs  •  Doug Grossman
Judith Stetzler


Scientific Name

Megascops kennicottii


Length: 9+" • Wing Span: 18-24" • Weight: 4-8 oz.


State and federally protected.


Woodlands, orchards, and backyard groves; locally, can be found throughout the urban area wherever trees provide sufficient cover; studies have shown this species to actually live longer and have better nesting success in suburban areas than in rural areas, probably due to plenty of food such as moths and beetles attracted to house lights or gardens, mice, and perhaps fewer predators, such as the larger owls who might not be as willing to live so close to humans.


Small mammals, birds, reptiles and large insects. 


Has a wide variety of vocalizations, none at all like a 'screech,' though the Eastern Screech Owl is reputed to screech. Most common call is a quivering whistle that ends in a downward cascade, often likened to a ping-pong ball's bounce: hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-oo-oo.


Roosts and lays eggs in cavities; young go through stage of 'branching' before fully capable of flight in which they leave the nest to explore, but are still being cared for by adults.

Most Common Problems

As with all owls, the most common cause of injury is collision with cars/trucks; other problems - flying into windows, falling down chimneys in search of nesting site, poisoning (through insecticides and rodenticides), tangling in fishing line. Young owls are most frequently brought in by well-intentioned people who find them on the ground or in plain sight during the 'brancher' stage but see no sign of parents; nest trees are cut down with young or eggs; young get knocked out of trees by crows or caught by cats.

Range Map

Most of the western United States.



Special Thanks for range maps:

Dan Gleason
BGleason Design & Illustration
Commercial & Scientific Illustration, Graphic Design
CraneDance Communications
Book Production/Design