Eastern Screech Owl

Megascops asio formerly Otus asio

About This Animal

SIZE: 6-10 inches; wingspan 18-24 inches

RANGE: East Montana to the Great Lakes and Ontario to the Gulf of Mexico, Northeast Mexico and Florida

HABITAT: Deciduous and mixed forest, riparian woodlands, rural agricultural areas and suburbs

DIET: Small mammals, small birds, reptiles, amphibians and a large variety of invertebrates

ON EXHIBIT:  Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari gallery in River Journey

Eastern screech owls are cavity nesters and both parents are active in rearing their three to five chicks (average clutch size). They have a symbiotic relationship with blind snakes. Sometimes they catch the snakes but do not eat them.  Instead, the owls place the snakes in their nests where they survive by eating the insect larvae in the nest. According to some studies, this relationship creates a greater success rate for young owls to fledge. Left to its choice the Screech Owl is a good neighbor controlling the local mice population.

Eastern Screech-Owls are active at night and are far more often heard than seen—most bird watchers know this species only from its trilling or whinnying song. However, this cavity-roosting owl can be attracted to nest boxes or, if you’re sharp-eyed, spotted in daylight at the entrance to its home in a tree cavity.