Eastern Screech Owl

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The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl that is relatively common in Eastern North America.

Adults are 25 cm in length and weigh 244 grams. They have either rusty or dark gray intricately patterned plumage with streaking on the underparts. Mid-sized by screech-owl standards, these birds are stocky, short-tailed and broad-winged. They have a large round head with prominent ear tufts, yellow eyes and a yellowish bill. Rusty birds are more common in the southern parts of the range; pairings of the two color variants do occur. A pale gray variation also exists in western Canada and the north-central United States. The color variations are referred to as ''red-phase'' and ''gray-phase'' by bird watchers and ornithologists.

Like most predators, Eastern Screech-Owls are opportunistic hunters. For the better part of the year, large insects are favored in their diet, with invertebrates often comprising more than half of the owls' diet. Some regularly eaten insects include beetles, moths, crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas. Small mammals, ranging in size from shrews to rabbits, are also regular prey and become the owl's primary prey during winter. Small birds ranging in size from chickadees to rock pigeons are often taken as well. Irregularly, reptiles, amphibians and fish are also preyed on. They are active at night or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey.

Photos

Eastern Screech Owl, White Rock Creek Greenbelt

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