The Western Screech Owl is a small owl living in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, as well as throughout the west. This owl has a long list of common names depending on where it lives, including the Little Horned Owl, Dusk Owl, Ghost Owl, Mouse Owl, Cat Owl, Little Cat Owl, Puget Sound Screech Owl, Washington Screech Owl, and Coastal Screech Owl. That’s a lot of names! And that doesn’t include the fact at one time it was confused with the Eastern Screech Owl, now considered a separate species.
This owl has distinctive ear tufts and brown or gray mottled upperparts. The shoulders sport white spots, and the underside has distinctive bars. The mottled face has yellow eyes and a dark gray beak.
The Western Screech Owl turns into a statue when they feel the presence of predators or people, and will tuck their feathers in so tight they look like a tree branch. Their “don’t move and you won’t see me” tactic means you can easily catch them with your bare hands.
Reference: The Nature of Madera Canyon by Douglas W. Moore, Friends of Madera, 1999; whatbird.com