Owl, Eastern Screech
Their length is 7 to 10 inches, and the wingspan is 18 to 24 inches. Females are larger than males. There are two distinct color phases: gray and rufous. In the rufous phase they are fox-red above and whitish below with rufous crossbars and dark vertical streaks, and rufous facial disks. In the gray phase they are gray or gray-brown above, darker on the crown, heavily streaked and crossbarred, with the underparts whitish. In both phases the striping and bars make a perfect imitation of tree bark.
Class: Bird (Aves)
Conservation Education Program AnimalMore Info
Range: North America
Habitat: Open woodlands, forest clearings, old orchards, suburban parklands
Lifespan: Lifespan: Average 3.6 years, but many live much longer.
Wild Diet: Mainly insects. During winter months birds, small mammals, and reptiles are consumed
They are strictly nocturnal. They do not migrate. Screech owls are exceptional hunters. The only time they screech is during the brief period when their babies have just left the nest and are beginning to fly. Instead, they trill, often in duet form, beginning and ending in perfect synchronism. Sometimes the trill is pitched at harmonic intervals of a third or a fifth.
Nests are in natural tree cavities, old woodpecker holes, or man-made nesting boxes. Nests may be as high as 60 feet above the ground, or as low as 4 feet. The female is in charge of incubation and brooding. The male supplies all thye food to the female during this period. Females deliberately choose very small males, and mate for life. Although the female may sacrifice the eggs if attacked, she will vigorously defend the fledglings. Screech owls defend their young so strongly that they have earned the description, “feathered wild cats”.
Gestation: Incubation: About 30 days
Litter: Clutch: 2 to 6; usually 4. Larger and older females lay larger clutches.
Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Owls can only look straight ahead. Their eyeballs cannot rotate up, down, or sideways. Instead, the owl turns its whole head, which is mounted on unusually flexible bearings. The owl's facial disks help it to hear better by deflecting sound into the ear openings which lie beneath. Their wings have soft edges which enable them to fly quietly. They play an important role in the control of rodents and insects. Owls have eyesight 100 times more acute than humans.
- While they have been known to live as long as 14 years in the wild, most do not make it past their first winter. Starvation and collision with cars cause high mortality in young owls attempting to find their own territory.