A red phase eastern screech owl appears to snooze right through a winter snow storm in central Illinois. Many birds, especially northern species, make use snow's insulating properties. They actually sit or roost in snow to stay warm!
The screech owl lives in a variety of woodlands, parks and residential areas. Its call has been described not as a screech, but more of a whinnying cry.
Eastern screech owls are found in gray and red color phases. Owls of both phases may pair up, and the chicks may be of either color or mixed (some red and some gray in the same nest).
Because they require a hollow tree for nesting, they have been affected by the urbanization of rural areas and the clean manicuring of parks. In these settings, dead trees are normally removed.
They will, however, use nest boxes provided by homeowners, or take over boxes built for other birds, such as wood ducks.
Eastern screech owls come in two color phases, gray (left)and red. It is easy to see how their plumage allows them to blend in with their surroundings.
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Quick Facts about screech owls:
Screech owls eat a variety of insects, small birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
7-10 inches tall
A normal clutch averages five young.
Dangers facing screech owls:
In winter, screech owls often hunt near roadways where they are in danger of being hit by vehicles.
Be careful not to disturb roosting owls or to call attention to their position. If their location is given away, they may be mobbed by crows.