Bird of the Week: Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech-Owl, Jen St Louis

Eastern Screech Owl

Despite its name, the Screech Owl’s call is more of a whinny than a screech, and its soft, musical call can be heard in woodlands, forest edges, and suburbs throughout the eastern half of the country. Screech Owls are among the smallest owls found in Texas–only about the size of a robin–and are easily identified by their size and distinctive ear tufts. Screech Owls, like most owls, are nocturnal raptors, and their eyes are uniquely adapted to low light conditions. In fact, an owl’s eyes are not spherical like humans’, but bell-shaped. Held in place by two bony rings calledsclerotic bones, they cannot move their eyes, and so must rotate their entire heads to change their field of view. Screech Owls are habitat generalists and can tolerate living near humans, and are particularly attracted to nesting boxes. Interestingly, despite their proclivity for eating small songbirds, they are often driven from their nests by small birds, who will take over the hole to raise their own young!

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.

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