Eastern Screech Owl

January 17, 2010 at 8:04 am

Common Name(s): Eastern Screech Owl
Latin Name: Megascops asio (recently reclassified from Otus Asio)

Size: Eastern screech owls are one of our smaller sized owls. Only the saw-whet owl is smaller in our area. They can reach sizes between 6-10 inches tall with a wingspan of 19-24 inches. They generally weigh 4-9 oz.
Habitat: The screech owl can be found in any treed habitat including rural and suburban areas.

Eats: Carnivorous in nature eat rodents, small mammals, insects, songbirds and crayfish.
Is Eaten by: The largest predator is the great horned owl.

Cool facts:

  • The eastern screech owl is the smallest of the tufted owls in our area. The ear tufts or horns on the top of the head are not truly the owls’ ears. The tufts are used for communication and camouflage. The ears are actually hidden under the feathers.
  • A cavity nester, the screech enjoys all the nooks and crannies of old apple orchards. They will use nest boxes.
  • The screech owl does not make a screeching noise. Their vocalization is more of a high pitched trill. They also make a high pitched whinny sound.
  • The eastern screech owl can be gray or rusty red in color. They gray phase is more common that the red with only about 1/3 of the population being red. An occasional brown color will be found in our area.
  • Owls can turn their heads about 270 degrees in either direction due to the 14 vertebrae in their necks. This is necessary due to the fact that their eyes are cone shaped to let more light in and are stationary in their heads.
  • An owl’s hearing is exceptional and is a primary hunting tool. One ear is lower on the head than the other to allow for triangulation, which allows the owl to pinpoint their prey more efficiently.

Tips for Walk Leaders:

  • Screech owls are common at Beaver Meadow Nature Center.
  • Being nocturnal they can often be heard during night hikes.

Photo Credits:

Learn More:

Posted by: Paul Fehringer


Entry filed under: Birds.

Barred Owl

The Animals of Western New York

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Contributors to this blog include the naturalists at the

Audubon Center & Sanctuary
Jamestown Audubon Society, Inc.
1600 Riverside Road
Jamestown, NY 14701
Phone: 716.569.2345

  • Jennifer Schlick,
    Program Director
  • Jeff Tome, Senior Naturalist for Programs and Exhibits
  • Sarah Hatfield, Teacher/Naturalist, Animal Care Specialist
  • Hollyann Leach, Teacher/Naturalist


Beaver Meadow Audubon Center
Buffalo Audubon Society, Inc.
1610 Welch Road
North Java, NY 14113
Phone: 800.377.1520

  • Paul Fehringer, Senior Naturalist


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