Lake Milton Raptor Center

Screech Owl

Otus asio
Screech Owl Screech Owl

Classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Genus: Otus
  • Species: Otus asio
  • Geographic Range

    Nearctic: Eastern North America from Minnesota, Ontario, and New Brunswick south to northeastern Texas and Georgia.

    Physical Characteristics

    Mass, 7 to 8 ounces; Length, 7 to 10 inches; wingspan, 18 to 24 inches. Dichromatic; in gray phase, brownish gray dappled; in red phase pattern the same but the main color is chestnut-red. Their coloring helps them blend in almost perfectly with the bark on trees. Ear-tufts, large and conspicuous as well as very uncommon; four or five outer primaries notched or cut away on inner webs; toes scantily feathered toward their tips. Both colors, red and gray, have yellow eyes as well as a yellow beak.

    Natural History

    Food Habits

    Otus asio feeds on large evening active insects like moths and katydids. It also eats amphibians, reptiles, small mammals like mice and tiny bats, small birds, and even small terrestrial invertebrates such as worms.

    Reproduction

    Sexual reproduction with internal fertilization. Otus asio females lay 4 to 5 eggs that are incubated 26 to 28 days. The babies are able to fly in about 4 weeks.

    Behavior

    This bird practices monogamy; the male and female mate for life. The birds are not migratory and often times a pair may keep the same nest, in winter and summer, until they are driven away. Unlike most other birds, the nests used by O. asio are quite filthy.

    Habitat

    These birds live usually in the tops of trees. They generally live in the hollowed out areas of the tree or in the old nests of other birds, because they do not make nests of their own.

    Biomes: temperate forest & rainforest, chaparral, desert

    Economic Importance for Humans

    Positive

    Otus asio hunt destructive smaller birds and mammals. They help control the insect population.

    Conservation

    Status: no special status

    These birds are mostly affected by deforestation.

    Other Comments

    There is a supersition that if you hear a screech owl make its call then death and disaster are near.