Haibun: Elf Owl

Elf Owls

So tiny, no bigger than a sparrow, the elf owl flees other owls who would eat it in one bite.  It’s big round eyes remind me of Harry Potter glasses.  I’d like to see one one day but not in my backyard.  My cat doesn’t understand why I prefer she sticks with catfood and not dine on local birds.

elf owl flying nights
wee bird hiding in cactus
come north when buds bloom

The dimunitive elf owl, lightest of the owls weighing an average of 1.4oz (40grams), nests in the Saguaro cacti after the woodpecker leaves its hole or in hardwoods like cottonwoods, oaks, sycamores and other hardwoods. It’s high nest helps to  avoid predators like other owls, snakes, bobcats, coyotes and ringtails.  No idiot, it flies to Southern Mexico for the winter as insects are more plentiful in warm weather and is known to play dead when threatened or captured. Nonagressive by nature, it prefers flight to fight faced even with a dubious threat.

The elf owls generally lay only three eggs each season and populations are dwindling due to habitat loss.  Still not uncommon in Arizona, at one point California thought they only had 10 pairs so that state declared them endangered back in 1980.  Texas has seen a sizeable drop as well.

Elf owls like to munch on scorpions and insects. They are nocturnal, see well at night and have excellent hearing which helps them to pinpoint an insect even before they see them.  Being only about five inches tall, with a wingspan of maybe nine inches, they rarely dine on small snakes or rodents.

You can use the Amazon search bar to do any search at Amazon as I did with “owls guide”.

I am an affiliate for Amazon. The prices remain the same. Amazon disclosure: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”


Elf Owl Fact Sheet, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Owls, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Elf Owl, Saguaro National Park, Arizona, National Park Service

Elf Owl,Wikipedia

Elf Owl,Owling.com

Cached by google: Elf Owl – Introduction, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  Site didn’t come up when I viewed it so viewed it by cache.  Has a little audio where you can hear the elf owl call.  Pretty cool.

Photograph: Elf Owl, Saguaro National Park, Arizona, National Park Service

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5MbKpNi3oY Youtube video by Chris Heising

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