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 The eastern screech owl or eastern screech-owl is a small owl that is relatively common in Eastern North America, from Mexico to Canada. Free use photo

Exploring Nature: Eastern Screech Owl

Sunday, September 8, 2019

I’ve had lots of wildlife use my backyard birdbath, including white-tailed deer, a gray fox, squirrels and black vultures.

On a recent early evening, I was surprised to see a brand new visitor — a small eastern screech owl. It was splashing around and having a good ol’ time.

I have heard screech owls at early nightfall around my place and their highpitched cry sounds like a cross between a horse whinny and a woman’s scream — not exactly music to retire to. But this is the first time I’ve seen this plucky little creature cavorting in my birdbath.

It was a most welcome visitor and I got a kick out of watching it splash around. I have an owl nest box on the side of my garage, so maybe this visitor will become a permanent resident. I sure hope so.

Found in the eastern half of the U.S., this small, mostly nocturnal owl, has piercing yellow eyes and prominent ear tufts. It is mostly gray and lives in tree cavities and human-provided houses, such as mine.

Eastern screech owls dine primarily on large insects, spiders, scorpions, snails and earthworms. They swallow their prey whole and then excrete the remnants as small hard pellets.

This owl breeds in late winter and early spring and if you would like to see one, just put up a nest box and install a birdbath. If you provide these, hopefully one will come.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666