Meet this Elf owl, the world’s tiniest owl peeping out from a hole in a sycamore tree as dusk falls on a dry West Texas river bottom. These little creatures are the size of a golf ball.
They stand less than six inches tall and weigh less than an ounce and a half. Despite their sizes, they are good hunters as at dusk, they emerge from tree hollows to hunt beetles, crickets, and spiders, as well as the occasional lizard or mouse.
These amazing creatures sometimes gather in tree holes with larger prey. Elf Owls may be found in woods and desert environments in southwest Texas and southern Arizona.
These smallest creatures produce rushing sounds while they are flying. But their wings contain little extensions on the front edge and a fringe of feathers on the rear edge that minimize sound by breaking up the airflow. This helps them to stay unnoticed while approaching their victims. The victims won’t understand what’s coming to them until the Elf owls will be too close.
Elf owls prefer to escape rather than fight. But the predators such as great horned owls have been seen to be mobbed by them. If a predator gets too close, elf owls have another strategy: they pretend to be dead until the threat has gone.