EASTERN SCREECH OWL
EASTERN SCREECH OWL FACTS:
A small, grayish owl with small ear tufts, yellow eyes, and greenish-yellow beak
Males: usually gray, but sometimes occurring in a rufus (reddish) morph; bold chest markings
Females: similar to male
Young: gray or grayish-brown with less distinct markings on chest; inconspicuous ear tufts
Common Screech Owl
Western Screech Owl, Whiskered Screech Owl
EASTERN SCREECH OWL SIZE:
Height: Males 16-24 cm (6.3-9.4 in), Females 18-24 cm (7.1-9.4 in)
Weight: Males 166g (5.85 oz), Females 194g (6.84 oz)
Wingspan Both: 48-61 cm (18.9-24.0 in)
EASTERN SCREECH OWL RANGE:
East of the Rocky Mountains, from southern Canada south into Mexico
EASTERN SCREECH OWL HABITAT:
Deciduous forests, riparian areas, parks, suburban areas
EASTERN SCREECH OWL DIET:
Extremely varied: insects, earthworms, crayfish, amphibians, reptiles, small birds, small mammals
EASTERN SCREECH OWL VOICE:
Unique vocalizations: screeches, barks, hoots, rasps, chuckles, whinnies
Males: quavering, low pitched descending trill, series of quavering whistles
Females: higher pitched; often duets with male
EASTERN SCREECH OWL NESTING:
Nest Site: tree cavities, hollow trunks, stumps; also nest boxes, mail boxes, porch columns
Eggs: usually 3-4, sometimes up to 7 eggs
Incubation: 26 days
EASTERN SCREECH OWL HUNTING HABITS:
Nocturnal, often crepuscular, occasionally diurnal; hunts from tree perch, captures prey with feet, often kills prey on ground and eats head first before caching the body
EASTERN SCREECH OWL CONSERVATION STATUS:
Not globally threatened; widespread and common
EASTERN SCREECH OWL DISTRIBUTION IN NORTH AMERICA
Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
This is the species that gave the Screech Owls their name. Not only do Eastern Screech Owls screech, they also bark, hoot, rasp, chuckle, and whinny. Their quavering, low-pitched trill has been described as “haunting” and is often used to “set the mood” in television and movie night scenes.
Once thought to be one in the same, the differing voices of the Eastern and Western Screech Owls is one reason scientists now classify them as two distinct species. Look closely and you will also notice subtle differences in the appearance of these two owls. Eastern Screech Owls have prominant dark brown vertical and horizontal markings on their chest and belly. Western Screech Owls have these markings, but in a more subtle way. The beak of the Eastern Screech is a pale greenish- yellow, while the Western Screech Owls bill is dark gray.
Though the two owls’ range may overlap slightly, the Rocky Mountains seem to be the dividing line that separates them. Eastern Screech Owls live in a variety of habitats in the east, and eat a variety of foods; in fact their diet is the most varied of any North American owl.
These owls will prey on most anything that runs, flies, wriggles, or swims, including earthworms, crayfish, insects, birds, and mice. As you can see, the Eastern Screech Owl is one unique bird!