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Elf Owl
The elf owl (Micrathene whitneyi) is a member of the owl family Strigidae, that breeds in the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is the world's lightest owl, although the long-whiskered owlet and the Tamaulipas pygmy owl are of a similarly diminutive length. The mean body weight of this species is 40 grams (1.4 ounces). These tiny owls are 12.5 to 14.5 centimetres (4.9 to 5.7 in) long and have a wingspan of about 27 cm (10.5 in). Their primary projection extends nearly past their tail. They have fairly long legs and often appear bow-legged. They can often be heard calling to one another just after dusk or at sunset. Their call is a high-pitched whinny or chuckle. The male and female dart around trees and call back and forth.

Reproduction Edit

Elf owls usually choose abandoned, north-facing woodpecker cavities in saguaro cacti, sycamores, cottonwoods, and other hardwood trees, to raise their young. The female usually lays three round white eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 3 weeks before the chicks hatch. The young owlets fledge at about 10 weeks. Usually, chicks are born in mid-June or early July. By the end of July, they are almost always fledged and ready to set out on their own.

Behavior Edit

They are often found in chaparral, and are easily found during their breeding season. They live in cacti much like some birds, using the shade and climate the tree provides. Elf owls usually are not aggressive and feign death in any dangerous situation, especially when a threatening animal comes inside their Saguaro cactus.

Migrating Edit

The elf owl migrates to Arizona and New Mexico in the spring and summer. In the winter, it is found in central and southern Mexico. Migrant elf owls return north in mid-April or early May.

Diet Edit

Elf owls feed mainly on insects and therefore occupy habitats with a ready supply of these. Agaves and ocotillos are ideal places for foraging as moths and other insects may sleep in their flowers. They are often seen chasing after flying insects, with a flight similar to a tyrant flycatcher's. They also feed on scorpions. The elf owls seem to not be bothered by the scorpion's stings.

Lifespan Edit

Elf owls live 3 to 6 years; in captivity they may live up to 6–10 years.

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