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Elf Owl

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About the Elf Owl

The Elf Owl is a small species of owl found in Mexico and southwestern parts of the United States. It is the world's lightest owl species and one of the smallest.

These tiny hunters are fierce nocturnal birds of prey. They feed on a variety of insets as well as lizards, snakes, and infant mammals like baby rats.

Elf Owls are cavity nesters, using woodpecker cavities drilled out of hardwood trees or saguaro cactus. Northern breeding birds migrate south for the winter, but others are year-round non-migratory residents in southern Baja California.

The longest-lived wild Elf Owl was recorded at 4 years and 11 months. In captivity, one individual lived for 14 years.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 25 December 2015
Scientific Name Micrathene whitneyi
  • Strigiformes
  • Strigidae
  • Micrathene
  • M. whitneyi
Birdorable Family Owls
Conservation Status Least Concern
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
(as of 22 August 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
4.9 to 5.7 inches
10.5 inches
1.4 ounces
Range North America Central America United States (West) Americas

International Names

  • 娇鸺鹠 (Chinese)
  • kulíšek trpasličí (Czech)
  • Alfeugle (Danish)
  • Cactusuil (Dutch)
  • kaktuspöllö (Finnish)
  • Chevêchette des saguaros (French)
  • Elfenkauz (German)
  • Elfo (Italian)
  • サボテンフクロウ [sabotenfukurou] (Japanese)
  • Alveugle (Norwegian)
  • sóweczka kaktusowa (Polish)
  • Mocho-duende (Portuguese)
  • Сычик-эльф (Russian)
  • Mochuelo de los Saguaros (Spanish)
  • Kaktusuggla (Swedish)

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