Eastern Screech Owl

Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Otus
Species: asio

La. strix, strigis  owl
La. forma  form, shape, kind
Gr. otis  buzzard with long
     ear feathers
La. asio, axio  horned owl

A small owl, eight to ten inches long with a wingspan of almost two feet.

Screech Owl, Robert Bruce Horsfall, Bird Gossip, Harriette Wilbur, 1920


Predominantly rusty red with light and dark brown or black streaks, or gray with black steaks and a fine yellowish tint and variations in between. White undersides with crossed black streaks. Conspicuous ear tufts and black circles around yellow eyes.

Eastern Screech Owls Inhabit forests, groves, swamps, orchards, parks, small towns, and suburbs in eastern North America, from southern Canada to northwest Mexico and from the Great Plains to the East Coast.


USGS Eastern Screech Owl Map


Builds scanty loose nests of sticks, leaves and feathers in natural or abandoned tree cavities, sometimes in barns and sheds or in nest boxes.

Lays around four to eight white eggs which hatch after less than one month of incubation and young leave the nest in about another month.

Nocturnal hunters of mice, insects, frogs, snakes, lizards, crayfish and fish, they usually keep out of site during the day. They stir up a commotion among song birds if they venture out during the day.

The screech owl is more closely associated with man's activities than other owls due to the abundance of prey, numerous nesting and roosting sites, and reduced competition in urban areas.

An owl's fluffy feather edges reduce the noise of flight. Many neighbors are unaware of the Screech Owl's presence until the bird swoops like a shadow toward an intruder, hooting and snapping its bill as it pulls up in the last second.

Since ancient times the owl or those who encounter it have been regarded as unlucky, a superstition perpetuated in particular by the Screech Owls proximity to people, its nocturnal nature and its eerie shivering, descending wail.

They have been made into pets, although it is best for all observed in its own. Left to its choice the Screech Owl is a good neighbor controlling the local mice population.

Species Nestbox Dimensions for Kestrel, Eastern Screech Owl, Western Screech Owl & Barrow's Goldeneye
Eastern Screech Owl
Nest Box Plans


50birds Designs include several Screech Owl Houses. The Eastern Screech Owl Nestbox (same as for Western Screech Owl, Kestrel and Barrow's Goldeneye) has a 8" by 8" floor, 15" inside ceiling, 3" diameter entrance hole located 12" above the floor and ventilation openings. Assembled with corrosion resistant screws fit to pre-drilled countersunk pilot holes.  Hinged roof is secured with shutter hooks for easy access.

Mount out of reach (10 feet or higher) near woodland edges or clearings, small tree stands or under the eave of a farm out building within moderate distance of wetlands. Face south so they can sun themselves through the hole in winter. Place some wood chips on the floor. Squirrels may use this box.


Screech Owl Call, Simeon Pease Cheney


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