Western Screech-Owl
Megascops kennicottii

Western Screech-Owl © Bob Armstrong


The Western Screech-Owl is generally a mottled brownish color which helps it blend in with tree bark. It has a dark bill, yellow eyes, and prominent ear tufts. Its facial disc is bordered with black. When startled, screech owls stretch tall and hold their wings close to their backs, simulating dead tree branches. Only 8.5” long, this is one of the smaller owls in Alaska.

Hunting Techniques and Prey:

Strictly nocturnal, the Western Screech-Owl hunts mostly while flying. It prefers to hunt field edges, wetland edges, and open forests. These owls have a varied diet consisting of small rodents, shrews, larger insects, and even fish and amphibians.


The Western Screech-Owl nests in tree cavities and hunts along larger river corridors and in the conifer forests in Southeast Alaska.


Western Screech-Owl Call (MP3 file 270 kB)
The Western Screech-Owl has two common calls. The first is a series of short whistles accelerating in tempo, and a short trill followed immediately by a longer trill. The second call can have an eerie quality when heard in the woods after dark.

Western Screech-Owl range map
 Casual or accidental

Owlmanac Cover This information is from The Alaska Owlmanac: A guide to the identification, habits, and habitat of ten owl species found in Alaska.