Species Profile

Western Screech-owl kennicottii subspecies

Scientific Name: Megascops kennicottii kennicottii
Other/Previous Names: Otus kennicottii kennicottii
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2012
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: C1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This small owl has shown serious declines in the southern part of its range in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and the Gulf Islands areas, where it has nearly disappeared over the last 10 to 15 years. Based on observed declines reported in Alaska, it has likely also declined in the northern part of its range, but the magnitude of the decline is unknown. The population is thought to be relatively small (less than 10,000 adults) and the owls face ongoing threats including predation from newly established populations of Barred Owls, and the removal of dead trees and snags, which serve as nest sites and roosts.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Species considered in April 1995 and placed in the Data Deficient category. It was split according to subspecies in May 2002. The kennicottii subspecies was designated Special Concern in May 2002. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in May 2012.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-01-12

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Taxonomy | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Western Screech-owl kennicottii subspecies

Western Screech-owl kennicottii subspecies Photo 1

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Taxonomy

There is some disagreement over the number of subspecies of the Western Screech-owl. We are following the most current source, which recognizes two subspecies in Canada, macfarlanei and kennicottii. The ranges of these subspecies do not overlap.

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Description

The Western Screech-Owl, Petit-duc des montagnes in French, is one of two species in the genus Megascops in Canada. It is a small owl with distinct “ear” tufts and yellow eyes; sexes are alike. There are two distinct subspecies in Canada: the kennicottii subspecies along the Pacific coast and the macfarlanei subspecies in the valleys of the southern interior of British Columbia. (Updated 2017/05/25)

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Distribution and Population

The Western Screech-Owl is found at low elevations in Pacific coastal forests, and at lower elevations from the southern interior of British Columbia south through mountain valleys to northwestern Mexico. In Canada, it is found in coastal British Columbia (except Haida Gwaii) and in the valleys of southern British Columbia from Lillooet, Kamloops, Lumby, Slocan, Creston and Cranbrook south to the US border. (Updated 2017/05/25)

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Habitat

The kennicottii subspecies is found in a variety of coniferous and mixed forests, but is often associated with riparian zones with Broadleaf Maple or Black Cottonwood. The macfarlanei subspecies is strongly associated with riparian woodlands dominated by Black Cottonwood, Water Birch or Trembling Aspen, usually located in a matrix of dry coniferous forests dominated by Ponderosa Pine or Douglas-fir. Both subspecies nest in natural tree cavities or holes excavated by larger woodpeckers, and will use appropriate nest boxes. (Updated 2017/05/25)

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Biology

The Western Screech-Owl is nonmigratory; pairs defend territories year-round. They are generalist predators, feeding primarily on small mammals and large insects, but also small birds, fish, frogs, and slugs. Young birds disperse from their natal territories in late summer. (Updated 2017/05/25)

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Threats

Habitat loss is the primary threat to the macfarlanei subspecies and has likely affected the kennicottii subspecies as well. Predation by the newly arrived Barred Owl is thought to be the primary cause of significant population declines of the kennicottii subspecies on the south coast. (Updated 2017/05/25)

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Western Screech-Owl kennicottii subspecies is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

16 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Western Screech-Owl kennicottii subspecies (2013-01-03)

    This small owl has shown serious declines in the southern part of its range in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and the Gulf Islands areas, where it has nearly disappeared over the last 10 to 15 years. Based on observed declines reported in Alaska, it has likely also declined in the northern part of its range, but the magnitude of the decline is unknown. The population is thought to be relatively small (less than 10,000 adults) and the owls face ongoing threats including predation from newly established populations of Barred Owls, and the removal of dead trees and snags, which serve as nest sites and roosts.
  • Response Statements - Western Screech-owl kennicottii subspecies (2004-04-21)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada (2018-08-01)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (GINPR). The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA (s.47)) for species requiring an action plan that regularly occur at this site. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits to other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at GINPR.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada (2017-08-24)

    Backed by the Insular Mountain Range of Vancouver Island and facing the open Pacific Ocean, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada (Pacific Rim NPR) protects and presents the rich natural and cultural heritage of Canada's west coast. Pacific Rim NPR consists of three distinct units, the Long Beach Unit, Broken Group Islands Unit, and West Coast Trail Unit, each offering a range of unique visitor experiences. With significant areas (51,216 ha in total) of old growth, temperate rainforest, coastal dune systems, wetlands and foreshore, and marine habitats, the park demonstrates the interconnectedness between land, sea, and people. These natural wonders are interwoven with the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations culture (past and present), and that of European explorers and settlers.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (volume 150, number 12, 2016) (2016-06-15)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments conducted under subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (2004-04-21)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 151, number 4, 2017) (2017-02-22)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to subsection 27(1) of the Species at Risk Act, makes the annexed Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 139, number 2, 2005) (2005-01-12)

    Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is amended by Order of the Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, by the addition of 73 species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and follows consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and analysis of costs and benefits to Canadians.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2011-2012 (2012-10-05)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (September 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) from November 21 to 25, 2011 and from April 29 to May 4, 2012. On February 3, 2012, an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee of COSEWIC also assessed the status of the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis). During the current reporting period COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 67 wildlife species. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2011-2012 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 1 Extirpated: 4 Endangered: 29 Threatened: 10 Special Concern: 15 Data Deficient: 2 Not at Risk: 6 Total: 67 Of the 67 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 49 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment (see Table 1a).

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: March 2004 (2004-03-03)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2012 (2013-01-03)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. Consultation paths.

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
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