Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern screech owl, red phase (public domain)

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern screech owl- US Fish and Wildlife (public domain)

CLICK TO PLAY EASTERN SCREECH OWL CALLS (MP3) An Eastern screech owl, the "whinny" call followed by the "trill" call (public domain)

Eastern screech owls are small owls with large yellow eyes. They have prominent ear tufts on top of their heads which are called plumicorns and are not actually related to ears or hearing at all, and can have red-orange, brown or gray feathers. The adults can weigh about 6 ounces and their wingspans are about 20 inches.

Owls fly very quietly. They have specially-designed, sound-absorbing feathers that allow them to accomplish silent flight. Their feathers tend to absorb high-frequency sound, and in addition the leading edges of their wing feathers have a fringe called flutings that both aid in stable flight and muffle the sound of air moving over the wing. Feathers trailing from the back of their wings mitigate sound waves produced by air flowing over the wing and off of the back.

Eastern screech owls have a call that sounds like a high-pitched whinny as well as a trilling call. Click the link under the pictures for an example. They can also make chuckling calls and bill clacks.

Eastern screech owls are permanent residents in the eastern half of the US.

Screech owls use woodlands, parks, and areas of scrub for habitat. They are nocturnal and are often hunting at dusk. These little guys like to bathe and may use a birdbath at night.

Screech owls eat mice, voles, and shrews. They also eat many insects. They can dive down on prey and capture it with their talons, and can also snatch bugs in flight. Screech owls swallow their prey whole. They later regurgitate undigestible parts like bones and hair in a compact lump called an owl pellet.

In Connecticut screech owls mate in February and March. They court sitting together on a branch with the male bowing and clacking his beak as he offers food to his intended. Owls tend to mate for life, and find each other each mating season. They nest in March to April and lay eggs in tree cavities, or in nesting boxes. These owls don't build a nest but may place owl pellets around their 4 to 5 eggs. The male feeds the female while she incubates the eggs and both care for the babies. The lifespan of eastern screech owls is about 6 years in the wild.