The Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) is a member of the owl family Strigidae that resides in the Southwestern United States. They mainly live in southern Arizona, Texas and parts of California. They migrate to Mexico in September. They are often found in evergreen oak habitat and are easily found during their breeding season.
It is the smallest of owls and is about the same size as a sparrow. They are overall gray-brown with white spots on the shoulder and a white bar at the wrist. They are roughly 5 inches tall and have long wings and short tails. Their primary projection extends nearly past their tail. They have fairly long legs and often appear bowlegged.
They raise their young in woodpecker cavities in Saguaro cacti, sycamores, cottonwoods and other hardwood trees. The female lays 3 round eggs and incubates them for about three weeks. The young fledge at about 1 month. Elf Owls feast mainly on insects, but have been known to eat scorpions, somehow managing to cut off the stinger.
The scientific name commemorates the American geologist Josiah Whitney.