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Elf Owl - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Michael W
California Gulch, SW of Arivaca, Arizona, USA, June 2005
Micrathene whitneyi


The smallest owl of the US at 13-14 cm (<5 ").


Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, plus farther southward in Mexico (especially Baja California).



There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • M. w. whitneyi:
  • Arid south-western US and adjacent north-western Mexico (Sonora)
  • M. w. idonea:
  • Southern Texas (lower Rio Grand Valley) to central Mexico
  • M. w. sanfordi:
  • M. w. graysoni:
  • Formerly Socorro Island (Revillagigedo Island off western Mexico). Extinct

This species is the only member of the genus Micrathene.


Desert, riparian woods, dry areas with a few trees.



They nest in a woodpecker cavity. The 3 round white eggs are incubated by the female for 21 days. The young fledge at about 10 months.


The diet includes insects.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

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