Description of the Eastern Screech-Owl


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.


eastern screech-owl


eastern screech-owl


Visit the Bent Life History page for additional details.



The sexes are similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Juveniles resemble adults.


Eastern Screech-Owls inhabit groves and woodlands.


Eastern Screech-Owls primarily eat small mammals and insects.


Eastern 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.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Eastern Screech-Owl.

Wing Shape

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

Fun Facts

Eastern Screech-Owl courtship takes place from January to March.

The male Eastern Screech-Owl brings food to the incubating female.


The 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.

Number: Usually lay 4-5 eggs.
Color: White.

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.