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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Whiskered Screech-Owl -- Otus trichopsis
(formerly Whiskered Owl)

RANGE: Resident from southeastern Arizona south to Nicaragua.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits scattered to dense woodlands on the slopes of valleys and in canyons, from 4,000 to 7,000 feet (usually between 5,500 and 6,500 feet) in elevation. Occurs in dense oak, oak-pine, and sycamore woodlands, avoiding forests of pure pines or firs.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Cavities in trees for nesting.

NEST: Nests in natural cavities in trees or in abandoned nest cavities of northern flicker and other woodpeckers. Prefers cavities in large branches or stubs to cavities in tree trunks. Favors relatively deep holes with bottoms 14 to 16 inches below the cavity entrance. Usually chooses a nest site that is 10 to 20 feet above the ground, generally in white oaks, but also uses other species.

FOOD: Consumes a diet mostly of insects and other invertebrates, including crickets, large moths, beetles, grasshoppers, large caterpillars, scorpions, centipedes, some small mammals, and rarely, small birds.

REFERENCES: Heintzelman 1979, Karalus and Eckert 1974.

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