Critter Corner - Screech
DID YOU KNOW:
Eastern Screech Owls occur in
different colors. Just as
are palomino, black and chestnut horses, there are gray, brown
and red screech owls. Both male and female owls share
Screech owls hunt at night
using their excellent night vision and hearing. They stalk
along the ground hunting for insects, toads and lizards.
They wade into water to catch fish, crawdads and frogs
They grab large flying insects and bats while in flight.
Their favorite food is mice, but they are not choosy.
Owls do not make a nest.
In April, the mom owl lays four to five
in a hole in a tree or in an abandoned building. She
incubates the eggs for three weeks. The dad owl brings
food to her every night. The owlets leave the nest at 3
1/2 weeks of age but stay with their parents until early fall.
Screech owls thrive in open
woodlands next to fields, marshes or meadows. Loss of this
habitat is causing a decline in owl populations. Moving
into harsher habitats, young owls have a hard time surviving.
They starve, get hit by cars or become prey to Great Horned
Screech owls are small,
standing only 10 inches tall and weighing only 7 ounces.
But they fight like wildcats in defense
their nest. When facing an enemy, a screech owl makes
itself seem big by widely opening its yellow eyes, standing as
tall as possible, and fluffing out its feathers. If the
enemy does not turn tail and run, the little owl flips onto its
back and digs its talons into the enemy's face.
Screech owls do not
screech. They have two calls, a whinny and a soft, low
The adult owls
communicate with each other when they set up their breeding
territory and to strengthen their pair bond.
Lakeside Nature Center's
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
red-phase Screech Owl, South Carolina Department of Natural
Resources; Gray phase Screech Owl, Missouri Department of
Natural Resources; Baby owl from US Fish & Wildlife Service;
Screech owl from National Parks Service)