Elf Owls

By Andrea Crandall / Photo by Bruce D. Taubert

Elf owls are aptly named. In fact, they're so small, they can fit comfortably in an adult human's hand. They nest anywhere from 15 to 35 feet aboveground, in saguaros, abandoned woodpecker holes and natural cavities in oak and sycamore trees. Known for "silent flight," they're completely quiet when they approach their prey, which includes invertebrates such as scorpions, centipedes and crickets. Elf owls aren't aggressive, and when captured, they'll play dead until danger passes or their predator loses interest. The world's smallest owls can be found in the desert regions of Arizona, as well as in some of the state's mountain ranges. When it gets too cold, they migrate south to Mexico for the winter.