Western Screech-Owl
(Megascops kennicottii)


Picture of bird
© Tony Battiste
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Western Screech-Owl is restricted in Canada to low elevation woodlands and forests along the coast and in the southern interior of British Columbia. Local data from the Christmas Bird Count suggest the Canadian population has shown a moderate decrease since the early 1970s. However, the two subspecies, M. k. kennicottii along the coast and M. k. macfarlanei in the interior, both of which have been designated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), show somewhat different trends. For more detailed information on these two subspecies, see the individual subspecies accounts.

See also:

Western Screech-Owl kennicottii subspecies
Western Screech-Owl macfarlanei subspecies


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2012Western Screech-Owl kennicottii subspecies
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2012Western Screech-Owl macfarlanei subspecies
SARA (Canada)Special Concern2005Western Screech-Owl kennicottii subspecies
SARA (Canada)Endangered2005Western Screech-Owl macfarlanei subspecies
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Sensitive2010 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaModerate DecreaseMedium

Population estimate

Canada5,000 to 50,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

The decline in Western Screech-Owl numbers on the Pacific coast has been mirrored by the increase in Barred Owls (National Audubon Society 2010), which moved into British Columbia from the northeast in the last half of the 1900s and became common throughout the Western Screech-Owl's Canadian range by the end of that century (Elliott 2006). In the interior of British Columbia, Barred Owls contact Western Screech-Owls only at the edges of the screech-owl's range. The primary management issue in the interior is the loss and degradation of low elevation riparian woodlands, particularly mature stands of cottonwood and birch (Cannings and Davis 2007). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type