Eastern Screech Owl Species Notes, Development Photos and Case Histories

This small, secretive owl is found in suburban and urban areas as well as in undisturbed woodlands. The preferred diet includes a large variety of insects, as well as small rodents, birds, earthworms and crawfish. The typical call of the Screech Owl is not a screech, but more like a descending whinny. Screech Owls normally are seen in two color phases, one a bright reddish brown, and the other grey.  In Alabama intermediate shades of brown are also seen.  Screech Owls are opportunistic cavity nesters, and will make use of a wide range of natural cavities and woodpecker holes.  Nest boxes and other man-made objects are also used frequently. Cavities being less exposed than open cup nests, it is relatively uncommon for the young to become separated from the parents before they leave the nest cavity. On the other hand, branchers and young fledglings very frequently are found, many of them perfectly healthy. Like all cavity nesters, Screech Owls prefer a nest box to a laundry basket.

Clutch size may be 3 to 6 eggs, with 3 to 4 being typical. It is not unusual for the youngest hatchling to be killed and eaten by the older siblings. Incubation requires about 27 days. The young are brooded by the female for about two weeks.  After maternal brooding ceases, younger nestlings not yet able to maintain their own body temperature are kept warm by older nestlings. The young leave the nest at about 4 weeks, initially hopping and climbing actively. Clumsy flight begins after 2 to 3 days, but young remain together, and begin attempting to hunt in 2 to 3 weeks. Hunting ability develops gradually until proficiency is gained after 7 to 9 weeks, and they continue to be fed by the parents until dispersal at 8 to 10 weeks.

 

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)

Development Photos

Hatchling

 

Young Nestling

 

Brancher

 

Fledgling

 

Fledglings

 

Case Histories

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