Elf Owl Facts!

Elf Owl. Miller Canyon, Hereford, AZ - June 2013. Image credit: Peter Wilton, (CC BY 2.0)

Elf Owl Facts!

Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi). Image credit: Dominic Sherony, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Measuring only about 5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.2 centimeters) in length, the elf owl is the smallest owl species in the world. It has brownish-grey plumage, with small ear tufts and yellow eyes. Despite its tiny size, it has a very loud voice that it uses to announce its territory and attract mates. Elf owls are not very aggressive and always pick flight over fight. When faced with danger, it may play dead until the threat has passed.


Elf Owl. Miller Canyon, Hereford, AZ – June 2013. Image credit: Peter Wilton, (CC BY 2.0)

Like typical owls, the elf owl is a nocturnal (nighttime) hunter and is equipped with excellent night vision. However, it usually uses its keen sense of hearing to track its prey rather than its sight. It doesn’t make any noise when it flies; this is called silent flight.


Image credit: BBODO, (CC BY 3.0)

Elf owls occupy habitats with an abundant supply of insects, which is their diet. When hunting, they swoop down on an insect and capture it with their feet. Their hooked beak enables them to tear the prey apart and they do that first before eating it. They eat the head of the prey first. Elf owls also sometimes simply pluck their prey off of branches or the ground.

Elf Owls are featured in the following books:
25 Desert Animals
101 Facts… Desert Animals
101 Birds of Prey facts!

The YouTube video playlist below contains a video about Elf Owls. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Elf Owl by BlamireG
  2. ELF OWL on a HOT day in Terlingua – REVISED by terlinguacitylimits
  3. Elf eats beetle by Mary Farley
  4. Elf Owl Eating by mychalupa


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here