To some people who hear this sound in the dark of night and do not know what animal is making it, this might be cause for alarm, but to those of us who recognize its source, it brings a smile to our hearts. The sound, which is described as a whinny, is made by an Eastern Screech Owl. All owls do not hoot, as this owl proves.
I live in the middle of the woods and have a Screech Owl box on a tall tree in the front of the house. Inside the box there is a camera that has a long wire running all the way from the box to inside the house and the TV. When I change the input on the TV, I can watch “owl TV.” Of course in the years that I have had the box up, much has happened, and much has changed and each year is an experiment to see what will happen. (I have another camera in the bluebird box. You can read about that Here.)
In the years since I’ve lived here in WNC, a Screech owl was living in the box and laid ONE egg. Then that egg disappeared, likely eaten by a squirrel. A female gray squirrel moved in at some point later and proceeded to give birth to 5 furry babies, all of which successfully left the box and likely now roam our forest.
This year we have made the roof steeper and put slippery metal on the sides of the box. In addition to metal sheeting at the bottom of the tree, this hopefully will make it impossible for the squirrels to reach, thus giving the owl a better chance at deciding to stay.
Lately, we have had an owl in the box occasionally. Each time I see its little inquisitive face poking out of the hole, I want to jump for joy! Hopefully the owl is female and will find a mate and lay eggs. If this happens I hope to learn how to stream this so I can feature it here on my blog. What fun that would be!
This week’s Creature Feature will be the Eastern Screech Owl. Do you know the habits of this owl, including when it lays eggs and how big it is? Do you know what allows it to fly silently or hear in even the blackest night? Check back next week to learn more about this small owl.
Until then, check out next week’s PUZZLER.