The Elf Owl is a small owl residing in lower elevations of the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson as well as other areas in southern Arizona. Preferring sahuaros for nesting sites, it takes over the former nesting holes of woodpeckers.
The gray to brown body is mottled with white and a reddish brown color similar to cinnamon. The pale yellow eyes have white eyebrows above them on a roundish head. This owl has no ear tufts. The face is white to off-white, with a black line forming a heart-shape. The Elf Owl has long wings compared to the small body, but a short tail.
This is the smallest owl species in the world. Their defense is becoming perfectly still hoping nothing will notice its presence; not always the best practice as it makes them easy for humans to catch by hand. However, since they live at the top of tall sahuaros, they are rarely captured by humans or predators. This is evidenced by their reproduction survival rate of nearly 70 percent.
Reference: The Nature of Madera Canyon by Douglas W. Moore, Friends of Madera, 1999; whatbird.com