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Digital painting of an Elf Owl. Made from Line drawing. Painted with photoshop.

The Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) is a member of the owl family Strigidae that breeds in the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is the world’s lightest owl, although the Long-whiskered Owlet and the Tamaulipas Pygmy Owl are of a similarly diminutive length. The mean body weight of this species is 40 grams (1.4 oz). These tiny owls are 12.5 to 14.5 cm (4.7-5.5 in) long and have a wingspan of about 27 cm (10.6 in). Their primary projection extends nearly past their tail. They have fairly long legs and often appear bow-legged. They can often be heard calling to one another just after dusk or at sunset. Their call is a high-pitched whinny or chuckle. The male and female dart around trees and call back and forth.

Elf Owls usually choose abandoned, north-facing woodpecker cavities in Saguaro cacti, sycamores, cottonwoods and other hardwood trees, to raise their young. The female usually lays three round white eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 3 weeks before the chicks hatch. When they are born, Elf owlets are the size of a human thumbnail. The young owlets fledge at about 10 weeks. Usually, chicks are born in mid-June or early July. By the end of July, they are almost always fledged and ready to set out on their own.

They are often found in chapparal habitat, and are easily found during their breeding season. They live in cacti much like some birds, using the shade and climate the tree provides.

The elf owl migrates to Arizona and New Mexico in the spring and summer. In the winter, it is found in central and southern Mexico. Migrant Elf Owls return north in mid-August or early May. It is also known as Mae Rose.

Elf Owls feed mainly on insects and therefore occupy habitats with a ready supply of these. Agaves and ocotillos are ideal places for foraging as moths and other insects may sleep in their flowers. Elf owls are known to eat scorpions, somehow managing to cut off the stinger. They are often seen chasing after flying insects, with a flight similar to a tyrant flycatcher’s just after dusk.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityabout 3 years ago

    Beautiful work Walter x

  • Thank you Anita. Your comments are very much appreciated.

    – Walter Colvin

  • JRGarland
    JRGarlandabout 3 years ago

    An awesome rendering of this magnificent bird.

  • Thank you my friend.

    – Walter Colvin

  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelabout 3 years ago

    Wonderful work, great composition and color!

  • Thank you very much Cindy.

    – Walter Colvin

  • deborah zaragoza
    deborah zaragozaabout 3 years ago

    Excellent Image!
    Please participate in this features forum. CLICK HERE
    Please Vote for your fellow members in The Group Challenge, CLICK HERE

  • Thank you very much for the feature Deborah, it is very much appreciated.

    – Walter Colvin

  • IrisGelbart
    IrisGelbartabout 3 years ago

    well done……..

  • Thank you Very Much Iris.

    – Walter Colvin

  • Keith Reesor
    Keith Reesorabout 3 years ago

    Marvelous Walter!! :)

  • Thank you very much my friend.

    – Walter Colvin

  • Rashid Latiff
    Rashid Latiffabout 3 years ago

    Superb detail in this work! A pleasure to view!

  • Thank you Very much Rashid.

    – Walter Colvin

  • Dawn M. Becker
    Dawn M. Beckeralmost 3 years ago

  • Thank you again for the feature Dawn. There are a lot of great artist in this group, so it is a great honor.

    – Walter Colvin

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