|Eastern Screech Owl (Otus asio)||
The Owl Foundation receives more Eastern Screech Owls each year than any other owl species (30 - 50 birds). This is because the Screech Owl is a very common species throughout the southern regions of eastern Canada and has a tendency to frequent urban areas. Nest trees are regularly felled in spring by storms or people, leaving orphaned owlets hungry and cold. Adults are often hit by cars while hunting near roads (there are more mice near the roads because of garbage in ditches) and survivors commonly incur permanent eye or neurological injuries deeming them unreleasable. Unfortunately, many of these casualties also leave behind families.
Screech Owls fall into two general colour morphs: grey and red. However, there are intermediate brown colour phases. Like the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), this colouration is genetic (the red allele being recessive and grey dominant) and permanent. Owls do not switch between morphs through their lives.
Screech Owls are often confused as young Great Horned Owls because both species boast conspicuous ear tufts. There are a few differences to look for though:
Screech Owls are rarely seen by visitors to the Foundation. As one of Canada's smaller owl species, this is not too surprising. Their mottled and barred feathering camouflages their slender, stretched bodies as they imitate trees. Some prefer to spend daylight hours hidden in roost boxes and are rarely even seen by staff.
This owl probably gets its name from the screeching call it gives when scared, but may come from its typical whinnying vocalization. This typical courtship call resembles the "hoooOOOooo" people reserve for ghostly sounds. A low, resonating territorial trill often accompanies a series of whinnies. Eastern Screech Owls will also produce single (and rarely multiple) hoots when surprised. Nestlings reap for food.
The Western Screech Owl
is virtually identical to the Eastern. The former has a darker beak and
an accelerating courtship call very dissimilar from that of the latter.
Owl vocalizations recorded by Kara Kristjanson.
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs and sound files are the property of The Owl Foundation.
No images or sounds on this website are to be duplicated in any way without express written permission
from the party to which they belong.
If you are interested in receiving quality versions, please contact The Owl Foundation.