STATUS: Endangered without critical habitat.|
DESCRIPTION: Size of large sparrow, elf owl is smallest owl in North America. Only 13-15 cm long, it has a wingspan of 38 cm and a really short tail. Spots of buff or white dapple the owl's gray or brown plumage, and brown streaks mark its white breast. White "eyebrows" arch above the elf owl's yellow eyes, and its round head has no ear tufts.
HABITAT: The breeding grounds for the elf owl are in Claifornia. The winter months are spent in southern Mexico and Central America. Aee also abundant in Arizona. In California they nes in the remaining reiparian forest of cottonwood, mesquite, and willow.
Present: Breed in southeastern California, central and southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, parts of southern Texas and northern Mexico and Central America. The elf owl in California is now limited in range to a 200 km stretch of the river from just north of Needles in San Bernardino County south to Walter's Camp near Palo Verde in Imperial Copunty. Wols have also been sighted at Corn Springs near Desert Center in Riverside County.
THREATS AND/OR REASONS FOR DECLINE: Habitat has been destroyed for agriculture and river divers during the last hundred years; soil alinization, changes in water levels, and other consequences of river damming affect remaining elf owl habitat.
Historic: Widely distributed in the lower Colorado River riparian corrdor and adjacent oases.
OTHER INFORMATION: The diet of this nocturnal bird consists of insects, centipeds, scorpions, and the occasional small bird or lizard. Don't need to drink water. Mating takes place between May and June and females lay 2-5 eggs. By October elf owls levae California for wintering grounds to the south.
Life on the Edge. Biosystems Books 1994. Santa Cruz, California