When in danger, the elf owl prefers flying away rather than fighting back. Apart from flying, the elf owl can walk, hop, and climb like a parrot as well. The elf owl is capable of producing almost a dozen different vocalizations. A high-pitched chuckle is one of them.
Disturbed - Arizona, USA. General colouration varies between more greyish and more brown. The facial disc is brownish, diffusely vermiculated, and with narrow whitish eyebrows. Eyes are pale to bright yellow.
Cere is pale greyish-brown and the bill pale greyish-horn with a yellowish-horn tip. Upperparts are greyish-brown, densely vermiculated lighter and darker.
The forehead has some ochre spots, and the nape has a narrow whitish nuchal collar. Wing-coverts have whitish spots, and the outer webs of the scapulars are whitish, forming a prominent white row across the shoulder. Flight feathers are barred whitish and ochre-buff. The tail has narrow pale bars, and only ten rectrices.
Underparts are whitish, densely mottled and vermiculated greyish-brown and cinnamon. Tarsi and toes are pale greyish-brown and bristled. Claws are dark horn.
Weight males g, females g. They sit fairly erect and have a knock-kneed stance. Flight is somewhat bat-like, but not as erratic. When danger approaches, an Elf Owl straightens its body, covers its lighter underparts with one wing, then turns its head and peers over the bent wing with the top of its eyes.
They are not very aggressive, preferring to fly away rather than fight. Elf Owls have many distinct vocalisations. The primary advertising call of the male is a high-pitched yip - "whi-whi-whi-whi-whi".
Five to 20 notes are given during each sequence and calling can be almost continuous through the night.
Calling is most intense during early evening and near dawn, on moonlit spring nights. A shorter version of this song attracts females to potential nest sites.
The female emits a short "peeu" note to help the male locate her. The male can give a short flight song "CHU-ur-ur-ur", when he leaves a cavity that he has been "showing" to his mate.
When disturbed both sexes give a sharp "cheeur", which is often repeated. Nestlings give a repetitive rasping call when hungry.
Elf Owls hunt small, weak prey because of their relatively weak feet and talons. Virtually all prey are arthropods - mainly insects and scorpions, although they likely take the odd mouse or small bird also.
There have been a few rare records of small lizards and small snakes being taken. Other common foods include grasshoppers, locusts, mantids, fly larvae, caterpillars, centipedes, and cicadas. Most prey is captured in flight as Elf Owls are very maneuverable in flight.
They hunt mainly by flying out from perches on trees, shrubs, or cacti to hawk flying insects or by flying over open ground.
They often hover over insect prey, causing the insects to take flight, then capture them in mid air. They also pluck insects from tree branches or the ground without taking off, and forage by walking on the ground.
Elf Owls are occasionally attracted to campfires or other bright lights in their quest for flying insects. Prey are carried to a nearby perch, where they are torn apart before being eaten. Pellets are tiny, dry and loosely formed.
They contain mainly insect body parts and tend to disintegrate soon after ejection.
Around April, Males attract females to potential nest sites by calling from a cavity, then flying out while singing, as she approaches.Elf owls nest in natural tree cavities and abandoned woodpecker holes that can be found in giant cacti, oak trees, and sycamores.
The nests are about 15 to 35 feet from the ground.
The smallest owl found in North America is the Elf Owl. It is only about six inches tall when it is fully grown. The wing span for this small owl is about 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 benjaminpohle.com: Chordata. Not only is the elf owl the world's smallest and lightest owl, it is also very cute and smart. When in danger, the elf owl hides its light-colored belly with its darker wings and successfully camouflages itself in the surroundings. Go through more such amazing facts about elf owls in this BirdEden post.
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Elf Owl ~ Micrathene whitneyi Introduction. The Elf Owl is a tiny, short-tailed owl with a round head and no ear-tufts. It was originally known as Whitney's Owl. The species name whitneyi is a Latinised word formed from the last name of Josiah Dwight Whitney (), a prominent American geologist..
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