I was walking in the woods, and what did I see? A little Eastern Screech Owl trying to have a sleepy. Are you humming along now?
Okay, seriously... a really cool sighting on one of my walks in some woods within the GTA! I don't know much about these little Owls though so here's some tid-bits from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
* The Eastern Screech-Owl eats a variety of small animals. Two captive males ate from one-quarter to one-third of their own body weight in food each night, but sometimes skipped a night and stored food instead.
* The trilling song on one pitch, sometimes known as the Bounce Song, is used by members of a pair or a family to keep in contact. The male will trill to advertise a nest site, court the female, and when arriving at a nest with food. The descending Whinny is used in territory defense. The songs usually are uttered separately, but sometimes are heard together.
* Eastern Screech-Owl pairs usually are monogamous and remain together for life. Some males, however, will mate with two different females. The second female may evict the first female, lay her own eggs in the nest, and incubate both clutches.
* The Eastern Screech-Owl is known to eat a variety of songbirds, including the European Starling. Despite this fact, the starling regularly displaces the owl from nesting sites and takes over the hole to raise its own brood.
As you can tell from my photos, these Owls, like many others blend in very well with their environment. A really tough one to spot out in the wild. He's probably 30 to 40 ft up the tree.
Standing next to a tree, one probably wouldn't even notice this guy above them.
So, if you really would like to see one but don't have the time to search, the patience to search and a bit of luck on your side as well... I suggest visiting Mountsberg Conservation Area and their Raptor Centre. They have 3 Eastern Screech Owls in captivity. All of which are unreleasable for one reason or another.
Meet Echo in these shots...
And if you are willing to pay for a personal Raptor Encounter, and behave yourself, showing respect and kindness, you should be able to hold one of these beautiful little Owls like I am here with my pal Otis. He looks a tad grumpy, him and his one good eye.