Eastern Screech Owl | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Eastern Screech Owl | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Eastern Screech Owl Overview


The Eastern screech owl is a small, stocky owl with prominent tufts on its head. Its plumage varies between gray and reddish-brown color phases, providing excellent camouflage. Large, expressive yellow eyes dominate its facial features, while its sharp beak and talons reveal its predatory nature.

Origins And Evolution

The Eastern screech owl (Megascops asio) has origins tracing back to North America, primarily inhabiting a diverse range of ecosystems from woodlands to urban areas. As a member of the owl family Strigidae, it is well-adapted to nocturnal hunting with keen vision and exceptional hearing.

Over time, its evolutionary lineage has given rise to various subspecies with distinctive color morphs, influenced by local habitats and predation pressures. Fossil evidence suggests that owls have existed for millions of years. Adapting their physical traits and behaviors to efficiently hunt small prey under the cover of darkness.

Behavior and Lifestyle

The Eastern screech owl is a primarily nocturnal species, emerging at dusk to engage in its active hunting behavior. With a diet that encompasses insects, small mammals, and occasionally birds, it hunts from perches or during brief flights.

Known for its distinct trilling calls and haunting, descending whinnies, it communicates with conspecifics and establishes territory. These owls often nest in tree cavities or man-made structures, displaying strong site fidelity. Their solitary lifestyle and ability to adapt to both natural and urban environments underscore their remarkable versatility.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Genus: Megascops
  • Species: Megascops asio

Eastern Screech Owl Locations

  • North America
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico

Fast Facts

  • Name: Screech Owl
  • Scientific Name: Megascops asio
  • Habitat: Wooded areas
  • Diet: Small prey
  • Physical Features: Ear tufts
  • Nocturnal: Night hunter
  • Solitary: Largely solitary
  • Unique Order: Strigiformes birds
  • Lifespan: 9-10 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Fun Facts: Camouflage plumage

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Camouflaged plumage
  • Skin Type: Feather-covered
  • Top Speed: Swift flier
  • Lifespan: 5-10 years
  • Weight: Lightweight bird
  • Length: Compact size
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 1 year
  • Age of Weaning: 4 weeks

Eastern Screech Owl FAQs

What is the Eastern screech owl's size?

Eastern screech owls are small, measuring about 6 to 10 inches in length.

Are they nocturnal?

Yes, Eastern screech owls are primarily nocturnal, being most active during the night.

What do they eat?

Their diet consists of insects, small mammals, and occasionally birds.

Where can you find them?

They inhabit woodlands, forests, and even urban areas in North America, including the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

How long do they live?

Eastern screech owls have a lifespan of up to 9-10 years in the wild, and potentially longer in captivity.

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