Elf Owl Micrathene whitneyi


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number 72,000 mature individuals (Partners in Flight 2019).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in slow decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Distribution and population

Micrathene whitneyi is found in Mexico and southern U.S.A. (del Hoyo et al. 1999). The subspecies graysoni, endemic to Socorro in Mexico's Revillagigedo Islands, has not been recorded since 1931 and is likely to be extinct (Jehl and Parkes 1983).


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Hermes, C., Khwaja, N.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Micrathene whitneyi. Downloaded from on 31/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 31/03/2023.