Learn About Eastern Screech Owls

The Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) is also a small owl.

Adults have either rusty or dark gray intricately patterned plumage with streaking on the underparts. Small and stocky, short-tailed and broad-winged, they have a large round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes and a yellowish bill. Rusty birds are more common in the southern parts of the range. Pairings of the two color variants do occur. A pale gray variation also exists in western Canada and the north-central United States. The color variations are referred to as “red-phase” and “grey-phase” by bird watchers and ornithologists.

Their breeding habitat is deciduous or mixed woods in eastern North America. Usually solitary, they nest in a tree cavity, either natural or excavated by a woodpecker; they will also use nesting boxes. They are strictly nocturnal, roosting during the day in cavities or next to tree trunks.

These birds wait on a perch on low limbs in open woods and along forest edges and swoop down on their prey; they may also catch insects in flight. They mainly eat large insects and small rodents, as well as small birds. They are active at night or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey.

Scientific Classification:

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

References: *BirdLife International (2004). Aegolius acadicus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 10 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern.