Elf Owl Micrathene whitneyi

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Polytypic: 4 subspecies
  • Authors: Donna Molfetto and Phillip Howard


Conservation Status

Elf Owl has a very large geographic range, and although the population is declining, the IUCN Red List status of Elf Owl is Least Concern (BirdLife International 2o10). Elf Owl is included in Appendix II of CITES, as is the case with all owls (Strigidae), regardless of rarity (except for four Old World species that are on Appendix I of CITES).

In Mexico, the relative abundance of Elf Owl is assessed as fairly common to common but local (Howell and Webb 1995).

Elf Owl is an endangered species in California, but captive breeding and reintroduction programs are underway there as well as habitat restoration and nest box efforts in other U.S. states (Henry and Gelbach 1999).

Effects of human activity on populations

Habitat loss resulted in the extirpation of Elf Owl from northern Baja California and threatens populations in California, Arizona, and the lower Rio Grande valley (Blackhouse 2008), though they can tolerate partly urbanized areas (Henry and Gehlbach 1999).

Recommended Citation

Molfetto, D. and P. Howard (2013). Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.elfowl.01