Native to North America. In size, it is second smallest of the owls (Length, 6", wingspan 15", weight 2.5 oz.), second only the Elf Owl of Mexico (5"). In cuteness, very high on the list; and in ferocity and aggressiveness, very high on that list as well, especially for such a cute little diurnal owl that hunts mainly dawn and dusk - perching and pouncing for prey up to three times its size, the size of a California Quail for instance.
Recognize it by its round spotted head, yellow eyes and claws, large black false eyes on its nape outlined by white, brown back, heavily streaked white underparts, and long dark brown tail with white bars. Its call doesn't help much; its more like that from a toy tin flute than the eerie hoot--hoot--hooo expectable from owls.
Habitat: mixed coniferous and deciduous forests of the foothills and mountains from northwest BC, to Arizona, and then to the southern Sierras of Mexico. Nest: mainly in tree holes made by other birds; one brood; 5 glossy white eggs; incubation starts when clutch is complete - takes 4 weeks; fledging another 4 weeks. Female does the incubation; male hunts and delivers the food - mainly small animals and small songbirds - shrews, voles and sparrows, etc. - but also butterflies, dragonflies, crickets and the like.
For a larger view, click the image. For its toot-like call, browse the Audubon link below:
And for Amy Grant and Vince Gill (her husband) doing "Whenever You Come Around":