The place to Discover Elf Owls — What Elf Owls Eat

This audio story is dropped at you by BirdNote, a accomplice of The Nationwide Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air each day on public radio stations nationwide.


That is BirdNote.

As twilight deepens alongside a dry West Texas streambed, a tiny owl friends out from a gap in a sycamore tree. It’s an Elf Owl, the smallest species of owl on the earth.

Standing lower than six inches tall, feathered in grey with massive yellow eyes, the Elf Owl weighs lower than an oz and a half — a bit lower than a golf ball. 

And it’s a decided predator. Flying out from its tree cavity at nightfall, the Elf Owl hunts beetles, crickets, and spiders, plus the odd lizard or mouse. Bigger prey comparable to scorpions — with the stingers rigorously eliminated — might find yourself cached within the nest for later eating.

Elf Owls stay in woodlands and desert cactus habitats in southwest Texas and southern Arizona [Editor’s note: New Mexico, too!]. In desert habitats, they usually nest in woodpecker holes in tall saguaro cactus. They depart the US by October for hotter latitudes of Mexico, the place bugs are extra out there in winter. However spring comes early to the American Southwest, and the minuscule owls return by late February or March, prepared to start their breeding season. 

Journey to Large Bend with BirdNote in August 2017, and also you may get to see an Elf Owl. Study extra at I’m Michael Stein.


Written by Bob Sundstrom

Producer: John Kessler

Govt Producer: Sallie Bodie

Narrator: Michael Stein

Hen sounds supplied by The Macaulay Library of Pure Sounds on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 105533 recorded by Geoffrey A. Keller, 188270 recorded by Bob McGuire.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and performed by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2017 Tune In to   March 2017   

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