The Western Screech-Owl (Megascops kennicottii macfarlanei) is a small, grayish-brown owl with dense streaks and finer barring on the chest, yellow eyes, and feather ?ear? tufts on the head (see cover photo). It was designated as ?Endangered? in Canada by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in May 2002 but re-examined and designated as ?Threatened? in May 2012 after increased survey effort led to a higher population estimate. It is listed as ?Endangered? in Canada on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. In British Columbia, the Western Screech-Owl, macfarlanei subspecies, is ranked S2 (imperiled) by the Conservation Data Centre and is on the provincial Red List. The B.C. Conservation Framework ranks the macfarlanei subspecies, as a priority 1 under goal 3 (maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystems). It is protected from capture and killing under British Columbia?s Wildlife Act. It is also listed as a species that requires special management attention to address the impacts of forest and range activities under the provincial Forest and Range Practices Act and the impacts of oil and gas activities under the Oil and Gas Activities Act on Crown land (as described in the provincial Identified Wildlife Management Strategy).
This cavity-nesting species is a year-round resident that requires low-elevation (generally < 1000 m) riparian habitat with mature, large-diameter trees for nesting, treed habitat for roosting, and riparian or conifer woodlands and edges of open habitats, with suitable perches, for foraging. In British Columbia, it occurs east of the Cascade Mountains in the southern portion of the province. The species may be limited demographically as they are short-lived and have a moderate reproductive output.
The main threats to Western Screech-Owls, macfarlanei subspecies, include: problematic native species (predation by larger owls); habitat loss related to agriculture (crops, livestock) and forest harvesting (including removal of trees in parks due to perceived safety risk); road mortality (collisions with vehicles); fire and fire suppression; and climate change (drought).
The recovery goal (population and distribution objective) is to maintain and, where feasible, increase the abundance of Western Screech-Owl, macfarlanei subspecies populations at known extant (including any new) locations in Canada.
The following are the recovery objectives:
1. Protect1 and enhance priority habitats for the Western Screech-Owl, macfarlanei subspecies, throughout its range in British Columbia.
2. Increase survivorship and productivity and decrease mortality of the Western Screech-Owl, macfarlanei subspecies.
3. Address knowledge gaps that hamper population recovery of the Western Screech-Owl, macfarlanei subspecies.
B.C. Ministry of Environment. 2016. Recovery Plan for the Western Screech-Owl, macfarlanei subspecies (Megascops kennicottii macfarlanei) in British Columbia. Province of BC, B.C. Ministry of Environment. BC Recovery Strategy (Species at Risk)