Elf Owl

Walter Colvin

Showlow, United States

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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

Artwork Comments

  • Anita Inverarity
  • Walter Colvin
  • JRGarland
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  • Cindy Schnackel
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  • debarlene
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  • Keith Reesor
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  • Rashid Latiff
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  • Dawn Becker
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