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Bird Bio: Eastern Screech Owl PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jackie Wolfinger   
Tuesday, 28 May 2013 20:21

Gray phase Eastern Screech Owl

This is our resident Eastern Screech Owl. Her exact age and personal history is largely unknown, but we do know that the tip of her right wing had to be removed due to an injury. She has learned to compensate for the missing wing tip and can fly a little bit, but her injury prevents her from surviving in the wild. She will remain at the Sanctuary for the rest of her life, and when you visit the Sanctuary, you will likely see her squinting at you from in or on her nest box!

Eastern Screech Owls live in suburban and rural woodlands, so there is a good chance an Eastern Screech Owl has visited your backyard! They can be difficult to spot, though. Eastern Screech Owls are small-only about 8-9 inches tall. They also have great camouflage! Eastern Screech Owls are either gray or red overall with stripes and bars that resemble tree bark. If you relax your eyes and stare at the following picture of the Sanctuary’s Eastern Screech Owl, she looks like an oddly shaped tree branch!

Gray phase Eastern Screech Owl on nest box

Eastern Screech Owls really utilize their coloring when they are roosting and nesting in the nooks, crannies, and cavities of trees. Check out these photos of Eastern Screech Owls in tree cavities and see how well camouflaged they are! The easiest way to find out if you have Eastern Screech Owls nearby is to go outside at night and listen for their trills and whinnies.

Eastern Screech Owls are classified as opportunistic hunters. This means they will eat almost anything that comes by as long as it is not too big. Eastern Screech Owls hunt from perches and fly down to grab their prey with talons. Usually they hunt for small rodents, but they will also eat insects, songbirds, small reptiles and amphibians, and occasionally fish. During the nesting season, the male provides food for the female and the young owls. The female will also tear the food he delivers into smaller pieces for the young to eat! Just like other raptors, Eastern Screech Owls swallow their food whole. The indigestible materials, such as fur and bones, are regurgitated a few hours later in compact pellets. For more information about raptor pellets, check out this video and pictures on this website!