The Whiskered Screech Owl is the most mysterious of the three Screech Owl species. Found mostly south of the U.S. border, the Whiskered Screech Owl remains elusive.
Very few nests of this species have ever been found. These owls tend to live at high elevations (usually around 5,000 feet) and nest high up in trees. In fact, they spend much of their time hidden in the tree tops, roosting in dense foliage and feeding on flying insects. Their nocturnal hunting habits and high elevation home make them difficult for humans to locate, but just like the other species of Screech Owls, this owl can be identified by its unique voice.
The Whiskered Screech Owl boasts an unusual series of hoots, often described as sounding like Morse code in the way the notes vary in length. This owl can also be heard giving a series of short whistles, all on the same pitch. If the unique call of the Whiskered Screech Owl brings you close enough to catch a glimpse of one, you might notice that it more closely resembles the Western Screech Owl with its dark beak and overall gray coloring, though its bold chest markings are more similar to the Eastern. The Whiskered Screech Owl is the smallest of the three, standing to only about 18 centimeters. Though the three Screech Owl species are very similar, clearly they differ in many ways.
Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.