The Eastern Screech-Owl is a small owl with grayish or reddish upperparts, short ear tufts, vermiculated underparts, and yellow eyes. There are red forms and gray forms.
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FemaleThe sexes are similar.
Seasonal change in appearanceNone.
JuvenileJuveniles resemble adults.
HabitatEastern Screech-Owls inhabit groves and woodlands.
DietEastern Screech-Owls primarily eat small mammals and insects.
BehaviorEastern Screech-Owls forage at dusk and at night, watching for prey from a perch and flying out to grab it.
Eastern Screech-Owls are resident across much of the eastern U.S. and southernmost Canada. The population is not well monitored, but appears stable.
Bent Life History
Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Eastern Screech-Owl.
The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.
Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History
Eastern Screech-Owl courtship takes place from January to March.
The male Eastern Screech-Owl brings food to the incubating female.
VocalizationsThe songs include a descending whinny, as well as a whistled trill.
The Eastern Screech-Owl’s nest is in a tree cavity, often an old woodpecker hole.
EggsNumber: Usually lay 4-5 eggs.
Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 26 days, and begin to leave the nest in about another 4 weeks, though continuing to associate with the adults for some time.