Eastern Screech Owl

Megascops asio (Otus asio)

Scientific Name

Eastern Screech Owl:  
Megascops asio (Otus asio)

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

They can be found from Manitoba, Ontario and New England south to Texas, Mexico and Florida.

Natural Habitat

These owls occupy open woodlands, deciduous (trees that shed their leaves in the fall) forests, parks, towns, scrub and river bank habitats.

Physical Characteristics

  • These tiny, stocky, short-tailed owls can weigh between three and eight ounces and stand about five inches tall.  However, when on alert, the owl stretches to be as long and thin as it can and expands to approximately nine inches.  Their wingspan measures ten inches.  They have either rusty or dark gray intricately patterned plumage with streaking on their underparts.  You will find prominent ear tufts on their large round heads with yellow eyes and a yellowish bill.

Quick Facts

  1. Screech owls usually have one brood per year producing four to five eggs about the size of ping pong balls.

  2. The screech owl is monogamous.

  3. An opportunist hunter, the eastern screech owl hunts form dusk to dawn.  A combination of sharp hearing and vision is used to locate prey.

Exhibit

Education Department

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The Eastern Screech Owl is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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Diet

Omnivore

Insects, beetles, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, lizards, spiders and cicadas. They also consume mammals ranging in size from shrews to rabbits and other small rodents.