Spotted: Eastern Screech-Owl (red morph)

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The girls & I raced out to our local nature center on Wednesday this week around noon in order to {hopefully} catch a glimpse of the Eastern Screech-Owl that has taken up {temporary?} residence in a maple tree mere feet from the Director’s office window. When we arrived, the winds were howling & snow was drifting on the roads. We first tried to view the owl from outside with our binoculars & could just barely make out its left ear tuft, s/he was snuggled down deep in the cavity. We went inside & chatted with the lead naturalist & the director for about a half-hour, hoping the owl would move to the front of the tree cavity again. Coralee’s Band class time was nearing, so we asked if we could play a recorded call to coax the owl out a bit? The naturalist opened the window a crack & played the Eastern Screech-Owl’s trilling/whinnying call.  Magic!  It slowly crept forward into the bright sunlight.  What a magnificent sight!  Its rufous coloring was striking.  A common owl throughout its range & found anywhere there are woodlands, but particularly near water.  There is a stream flowing directly behind the nature center.  This owl has been sunning itself in the cavity opening for several days running now.  The naturalist is hoping s/he is able to locate a mate in the area & nest right where it is–smack dab in front of her boss’s window.  What a divine happenstance that would be!

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Coralee took all these photos with her scope & iPod from atop the director’s desk.  They were so kind to allow us to intrude into their private office space for almost a half-hour!  Most people only ever hear the Eastern Screech-Owl, it’s quite uncommon to see one.  This species has two main color variations–grey (more common) & this red or rufous.  It was quite a treat to observe, Iapologizeforthis, this ADORABLE bird.  Number 29 on my bird list for 2015!

Have you ever located owls in the daylight?  This is literally the first wild one I have ever seen in broad daylight.

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13 thoughts on “Spotted: Eastern Screech-Owl (red morph)

  1. Just magical – what a real treat it must of been to see this lovely owl. It is for me viewing thru the pc screen. It is so incredibly sweet all snuggly and cozy, just beautiful Ruby, glad you all got to see it up close like that.

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  2. how wonderful, Ruby! The only time I have ever seen an owl ( it was a Barred Owl) on off-peak hours was last year on my birthday – what a gift! What an experience your little wines will likely never forget, thanks so much for sharing these images with us 🙂 xo

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    • The owl is at the Benton County Nature Center (our county–we straddle the Benton/Buchanan line), but we’ve been spending quite a bit of time at Fontana. I think I’ve been volunteering there for almost a year now. I believe you mentioned to me you are friends with Dan? We went to Crumbacher over the weekend to ski but the conditions were terrible–the snow was much too sticky. I only recently realized how truly close Crumbacher is to our house & have been itching to try skiing up there. When you lived in Jesup did you ski/snowshoe Crumbacher’s trails?

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  3. These are great. We heard screech owls at our place occasionally for almost three years before finally seeing any. Then, suddenly, one morning I heard one again, went in the yard to look, and saw not one but two: a rufous AND a gray phase. Then, heard a third bird calling from the other direction. It was amazing!

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    • That’s quite amazing to see two at once, Carl! Thank you for sharing your story. We seem to only have Barred Owls in the woods around our house. Coralee spent a considerable amount of time in the woods this weekend looking for cavities in the trees that might support an owl. Looking forward to the birding this weekend with IYB.

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  4. Pingback: Playing with color | Being Bodeker

  5. Pingback: Spring Birding & a Second Benton County ESO Red Morph | Being Bodeker

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