Postfledging Behavior and Dispersal of Juvenile Western Screech-Owls: Patterns of Movement and the Effects of Gender and Social Dominance

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Raptor Biology



Major Advisor

James R. Belthoff


This thesis contains three chapters that describe my two-year study of the postfledging roosting behavior and dispersal of young western screech-owls, Otus kennicottii, in southwestern Idaho. In the first chapter I discuss the primary focus of this study which was to examine how social status alters the distance and direction that young screech-owls disperse. For the most part, hypotheses regarding social status and dispersal have been untested. Thus, the first chapter contains the most scientifically challenging and intriguing portion of this thesis. Chapters two and three describe the dispersal behavior and roosting behavior during the postfledging period, respectively, and are, in part, an extension of a descriptive study of dispersal and roosting behavior in a closely related but geographically distinct species, the eastern screech-owl, Otus asio (Belthoff & Ritchison 1989; Belthoff & Ritchison 1990), in eastern Kentucky. Here, my study provides a comparative analysis of the behavior of young of both species, and offers insight into the effects that physiography and distinctly different habitats have on the ecology of these two species.

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