The Western Screech Owl, Megascops kennicottii, is a small owl. It is closely related to the European Scops owl and the North American Eastern Screech Owl.
Adults have either brown or dark grey plumage with streaking on the underparts. They have a round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes and a yellowish bill. They were previously considered to be the same species as the Eastern Screech Owl.
A Western Screech-Owl at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Their breeding habitat is open deciduous or mixed woods in western North America. They nest in a cavity in a tree or cactus, often using old woodpecker holes.
They are permanent residents.
These birds wait on a perch and swoop down on prey; they may also catch insects in flight. They mainly eat small mammals and large insects, also small birds. They are active at night or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey.
In the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky, Spoorn, the first liutenant to Skench, the evil Ablah General, is a Western Screech. Also, a much less prominent character, 47-2, is a Western Screech.
The call is a series of short whistles at an increasing tempo or a short then long trill.
The scientific name commemorates the American naturalist Robert Kennicott.