Eastern Screech Owl (Case History #1)

Parent Screech Owl located by adult call

A brancher Screech Owl was found on the ground near Brookwood, Alabama. The bird appeared to be perfectly healthy, and since we were reuniting several cases at that time, I delegated this case to long-time volunteer Stacy Traffenstedt. This was early in our investigations of the use of vocalizations, and we had no recordings of food-begging calls of Screech Owls. Instead, we gave Stacy a recording of an adult Screech Owl call, along with the young bird, safely and comfortably housed in a traveling box lined with pine straw. When Stacy reached the location where the young bird had been found, she could see no sign of the nest cavity or the adult birds, so she placed the brancher in an orchid basket wedged between the trunk and a branch of the closest tree, about 20 feet above the ground. Then she descended to the ground and played the Screech Owl call. After a few minutes, she saw an adult Screech Owl stick its head out of a hole in a power line pole about 15 feet away. This had to be one of the parents, and the cavity was undoubtedly the original nest site. Stacy concluded that it was safe to leave the brancher in the tree. Checking back the next day, she learned from the original finder that the brancher had left the orchid basket sometime during the night. Presumably, it was safely perched somewhere in the tree, concealed from humans and predators alike.

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