Western screech owl (Photo by Josh Shaw)
What does the western screech-owl look like?
Western screech-owls have relatively large, yellow eyes and what look like pointy ears on the top of their heads. These “ears” or “horns” are not actually neither of the two; they are feathers that are used for camouflage purposes.
Where does the western screech-owl live?
In Canada, western screech-owls live year-round in coastal British Columbia and in valley bottoms across the southern portion of the province. There are two subspecies of western screech-owl: kennicottii and macfarlanei subspecies. Both prefer coniferous and mixed forests and nest in existing tree cavities or holes created by other birds, such as woodpeckers. They also depend on the riparian deciduous forests in southern BC as habitat.
What is the western screech-owl's conservation status?
Both populations of the western screech-owl are assessed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Both have small populations in Canada and are threatened by the loss of mature trees that provide cavities for nesting.
Western screech-owl are also susceptible to predation from barred owls.
What is NCC doing to help protect the western screech-owl's habitat?
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is protecting several properties in British Columbia where the western screech-owl lives. The Frog Bear Conservation Corridor is habitat for the many rare and important species that rely on the rich lowlands of the Creston Valley, including western screech-owl.
A few years ago, NCC also conducted western screech-owl surveys for Earth Rangers in the Elk Valley. While none were detected (as we were searching new areas to the north of known locations), the surveys proved to be very informative for local biologists working on determining the distribution of the species in the Elk Valley.