2015 AH Classic Wall CalendarShop the AH Store >>

Our 2015 calendars are now available!

Classic Wall Calendar

CL15 $10.99

Our classic 13-month spiral-bound calendar features 30 full-color photographs and a handy map of Arizona on the back.

Order Now >>
Purchase Camping GuideShop the AH Store >>

Featured Book

Arizona Highways
Camping Guide

AGCS3 $22.95

Our newest book, which includes Arizona Highways iconic photography and maps, is sorted by region and is written for car-campers and families. Detailed information about accessibilty, amenities and fees is included for each campground.

Order Now >>
2011 AH Wildlife CalendarSee Selection of Images >>

Featured Prints

Poster Prints
Special Edition Prints

Many of the extraordinary images found in our award-winning magazine, scenic coffee-table books and exquisite calendars can be purchased as fine posters and prints.

Order Now >>
Shop the AH Store >>

Featured Gift Item

Centennial Issue Reprint

SPCENN2 $4.99

If you missed our February 100-page Centennial Issue on newsstands earlier this year, here's your second chance to get a copy of this special collector's edition of Arizona Highways magazine..

Order Now >>

  • print page
  • Tell a Friend
  • Post to Facebook
  • YouTube
  • past to del.icio.us
BULLETnature archive
Nature Archive Photo
© Tom Vezo

>> Click on image to view
it larger in a separate window.
Hoooo Goes There?
Western screech owls are loud, very loud, but for the most part, they keep a low profile, lying in wait for small mammals they can attack with their deadly claws.

By Mark Crudup

Should you ever be walking through the woods, sometime after dark, and you feel like you're being watched, you probably are. Not by Jason or Freddie or Chucky, but by a western screech owl.

The owls, which have eyes that emit a yellowish glow and heads that can pivot nearly 360 degrees, are best known for their trademark screech. Characterized by bird-watchers as a series of accelerating notes — similar to a pingpong ball bouncing to a stop — the owls use these calls to communicate with one another, especially during mating rituals.

Although it would make an impressive battle cry, when hunting, the birds actually sit quietly in trees, watching for prey. Because of their grayish chests and the thin black markings on their bellies, the 7- to 13-inch birds are well camouflaged and often mistaken for branches.

Surviving mostly on insects, scorpions and small mammals, the owl tackles its prey with its long claws and attacks with its sharp beak. After the prey is dead, it's devoured whole. Later, the bones and the fur are regurgitated in the form of small pellets.

Unlike bobcats and other animals in the woods, western screech owls typically mate for life. Females lay from two to five eggs at a time and stay with them during incubation, while the males gather food. Although most owls build nests in tree holes chiseled out by woodpeckers, some are finding refuge in the manmade birdhouses that are being installed by conservationists in an effort to protect the population. Like many species that range across the western United States, habitat loss is a real concern. And for at least one owl, it's something to screech about.

>> Back to Nature Archive

Story ArchivesFind previously published stories online... [more]

Global SnapshotsSend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]

Photo of the DaySend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]


Social MediaJoin our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr communities for behind-the-scenes glimpses at Arizona Highways... [more]

Events & PromotionsEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

Travel GuidesThere's so much to see and do in Arizona. Let our online travel guide be your one-stop resource for planning your next Arizona adventure... [more]

site map  |  terms of use  |  privacy policy  |  corporate sales  |  about us  |  contact us

Arizona Highways Television AZ Dept. of Transportation AZ Dept. of Public Safety Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

© Copyright 2014 Arizona Department of Transportation, State of Arizona. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The images on this Web site are copyrighted, digitally watermarked and registered with the Digimarc tracking system. All rights reserved. Copying and downloading images from this site are strictly prohibited.