Flammulated Owls - Strigidae Megascops flammeolus
Home     Bird Index     Detail

Flammulated Owl

Flammulated Owl

Flammulated Owl

Flammulated Owl-Disguise

Photo Details
July 5, 2005 - Weber Canyon, Weber County, Utah - ©Nicky Davis

Notice how well this owl is disguised in the 4th photo.  The owl in the 3rd photo seemed to have a wing that  had some problem although he had no trouble flying. The sexes are alike in appearance although the male and female can be distinguished by call (the female has a higher pitched call).


Named for the rufous outer scapular feathers that make the streak of flame on either side of their back, the 6.75"  Flammulated Owl is one of the most common owl species in Utah in the right habitat. The owl breeds in mid- to high-elevation mature aspen groves where Northern Flickers have excavated nest cavities. Flammulated Owls are insectivorous and therefore, highly migratory. The males arrive back in Utah from their wintering grounds in Central America in early to mid-May. They return to last year's territory and begin to sing and defend the site from other males. Females return to the previous year's territory about a week later. If the female doesn't find a mate present, she'll quickly pair with one of her unmated neighbors. Flammulated Owls usually lay 2-3 eggs in abandoned woodpecker holes that hatch in just over 3 weeks. During this time, the males sing the most and can be attracted to a recorded call presumably to defend their territories against intruders. Once the eggs hatch singing of mated males is dramatically reduced as their role as provider takes precedence. During the incubation stage, males deliver 3-4 prey items per hour to females. Once the eggs hatch, prey deliveries increase to 9-10 items per hour. Most clutches fledge two birds and then the family splits up. The male sees to the needs of one owlet and the female sees to the needs of the other. By October, Flammulated Owls migrate south. The young do not return to their natal territories. Information sourced from 'Flammulated Owls (Otus flammeolus) Breeding in Deciduous Forests', Dr. Carl Marti, 'North American Owls: Biology and Natural History', Dr. Paul A. Johnsgard, and 'Flammulated Owl' in The Birds of North America, D. A. McAllum.
-Kristin Purdy

Utah Range Map
click for range map color key

Back to Top