Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) - wiki
Eastern Screech Owl
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[Photo] Red phase Eastern Screech Owl taken in the Tampa Bay area of Florida by Bill Waller http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Bare_Foot_Billy
The Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) is a small owl.
Adults have either rusty or dark grey 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 colour variants do occur. A pale grey 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 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.
The screech owls produce a number of different noises. The call that gives them their name is less a screech and more a spooky horse whinny. Another call they make is a quick melodic puttering that is very hard to locate. When angered, mildly threatened or otherwise offended they growl, like a miniature bulldog. Annoyed or quite upset, they will snap their bill making a little clapping noise. Some argue this clapping is actually tongue-clicking.
They are usually permanent residents; birds at the northern parts of the range may change location.
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