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Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl
Megascops asio (formerly Otus asio)
(Order Strigiformes; Family Strigidae)


Eastern Screech Owl, gray phase (left; Eastern Screech Owl, red phase (right,

Diagnosis:  The eastern screech owl is a small owl, usually 9-10” (22.5-25.0 cm) in length with a 20 inch wingspan. Color morphs for these owls can be mottled with gray and white (most common) or red brown with white.  They have prominent ear tufts as adults and bright yellow eyes.

Natural history:  This species nests in tree or box cavities without any nesting material.  Females produce between 3-8 white eggs per year.  Females are fed by the males during the 25-26 day incubation period.  The fledgling stage lasts 26-27 days.  These owls are non-migratory and are active at dusk and during the night.  If seen by day, they may freeze in an upright position to avoid detection.  Females and males can occupy the same roost and night, and it is believed that they mate for life.

Distribution:  Eastern screech owls can be found in east North America from east Montana and the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, south to Tamaulipas in northeast Mexico. And from south Ontario, Canada to Florida. (Source:


Call:  Screech owls rarely give a screeching call, but more commonly give a tremlulous,
descending wail (“trill”).

Video: Eastern Screech Owl Vocalizing


Habitat:  Trees with hollows, especially in old orchards.  They can also be found in suburban settings.

Diet: Large insects, small mammals, small birds and snakes.

Conservation status:  Not threatened.

Audubon Society, The. 1992. Field Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York.
Tekiela, Stan. 2001. Birds of Kansas Field Guide. Adventure Publications, Inc., Cambridge, MN.

Image Credits:
Red phase Screech Owl:
Gray phase Screech Owl:
YouTube: Eastern Screech Owl Vocalizing:


Submitted by: Amy Coffman, July 2011.

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