Description: Small, gray owl with dark beak and bright yellow eyes. It appears round-headed unless ear tufts are raised. Shows white wing bars and coverts and black streaking below. Length: 8 1/2 inches.
Habitat: Oak woodlands, parks, desert and suburban areas.
Diet: Rodents, insects, birds, fish and reptiles.
Displays: Courtship rituals take place on perch: male bows, raises wings, snaps bill, blinks at female and approaches. Distraction displays include feigning injury to lure predators away from owlets.
Nest: In cavity of tree, building crevice, hollow stump or abandoned magpie nest.
Eggs: White, oval-shaped, nearly spherical; 1.4 inches long.
Call: Two commom calls: a series of short whistles accelerating in tempo and a short trill followed immediately by a longer trill.
Notes: Swallows food whole, regurgitates indigestible portions (bones, fur, feathers) in the form of a pellet.
Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas, call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160. Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis. Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; “The Birder’s Handbook,” Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); “Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” National Geographic Society (1987); “Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution,” Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).