Species Highlight: The Elf Owl

Do you know that there’s an owl that’s as small as a sparrow and will simply match within the palm of your hand? Now you do! The aptly named Elf Owl is the world’s smallest raptor alongside its phylogenetic “sister species,” the elusive Lengthy-whiskered Owlet of the Peruvian cloud forests.

Though the Lengthy-whiskered Owlet is of comparable dimension, the Elf Owl is lighter, securing it the title of the itsy bitsy-est raptor round. Elf Owls are present in restricted stretches of the southwestern United States, Baja California, and Mexico.

Associated Article: Species Highlight: The Harpy Eagle

Enjoyable Information In regards to the Elf Owl

If being tiny isn’t fascinating sufficient, don’t fear! There’s loads extra to study in regards to the Elf Owl. Let’s discover some fascinating Elf Owl enjoyable info.

Even smaller than you suppose: Have I discussed that Elf Owls are tiny? Nicely they’re even smaller than you’re most likely picturing. Roughly 5 inches lengthy and with a wingspan that reaches roughly 9 inches, the Elf Owl weighs between 1 ounce and 1.5 ounces. That is roughly the burden of a single pencil. The Elf Owl’s weight is about 32 instances lighter than that of the Nice Grey Owl — North America’s largest owl — and its wingspan is barely greater than a fifth of Nice Grey’s spectacular 4 foot wings.

Tiny however mighty: Although small, the Elf Owl could be surprisingly fierce. Regardless of usually being territorial towards fellow Elf Owls, these tiny raptors have been noticed banding collectively to “mob” predators who come too shut. Mobbing is a standard chicken habits whereby small birds will gang up on predators to drive them away. Regardless of the dangers to life and limb, Elf Owls could even swoop and strike enemies, counting on the protection of teamwork to guard them.

Peculiar pest management: Elf Owls usually eat bugs and arthropods like moths, scorpions, and beetles. In some instances, although, they hunt tiny snakes referred to as threadsnakes. Oddly, they don’t catch these snakes to eat. As an alternative, they carry threadsnakes house to the nest alive. There, the snakes devour the parasites that threaten the well being of the nest. It’s a intelligent and surprising for of pest management that helps preserve hatchlings secure and wholesome.

Cactus candy cactus: Talking of nests, the Elf Owl’s nest selection is itself usually helps preserve these birds secure from predators. Elf Owls are cavity nesters and sometimes nest in holes left behind by woodpeckers. They nest excessive up in bushes the place they’re laborious to succeed in and, very often, their most popular nesting websites are Big Saguaro Cacti. The tall and prickly Saguaro Cactus provides an additional layer of safety and Elf Owls usually thrive in areas of the Southwest the place these cacti are plentiful.

Taking part in possum: When threatened, most Elf Owls will do no matter they will to flee the hazard and conceal themselves. If the worst involves cross and the Elf Owl is captured, they’ll “play useless” till the predator strikes on.

The Way forward for the Elf Owl

Elf Owls are thought-about to be of “Least Concern” by the IUCN’s Pink Record of Threatened Species. Regardless of this, the IUCN notes that Elf Owl populations are in decline. Elf Owls are closely reliant on particular environmental components. In riparian scrublands, the well being and integrity of the waterways is crucial. Within the Southwestern desert, the presence of Big Saguaro Cacti is a big issue. The Elf Owl’s decline ought to be taken as a warning that these habitats are degrading and have to be preserved earlier than the relative stability that this species enjoys is misplaced.

In style Article: Species Highlight: The Bobolink

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