Eastern Screech-Owl

Megascops asio




Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

2 - 8

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

In tree cavity., In deciduous trees such as oaks, elms, maples, sycamores, willows, and apples; occasionally in pines.

Nest Material:

No material added to nest.





Eastern Screech-Owl Gray Morph: Small owl with gray-mottled upperparts, rows of white spots at shoulders and heavily streaked and barred underparts. Facial disk is lightly mottled with prominent dark rim. Ear tufts are small. Eyes are bright yellow and bill is yellow or olive-green. Short, rounded wings and tail are barred. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has a downy appearance. Red morph is similar but gray tones are replaced with red-brown.

Range and Habitat

Eastern Screech-Owl: Common in east North America from east Montana and the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, south to Tamaulipas in northeast Mexico; also found from south Ontario to Florida. Preferred habitats include mixed woodlands, deciduous forests, parklands, wooded suburban areas, riparian woods along streams and wetlands, mature orchards, meadows, and fields.

Breeding and Nesting

Eastern Screech-Owl Gray Morph: Two to eight white eggs are laid on natural sawdust on the floor of a natural tree cavity or abandoned woodpecker hole, usually 6 to 20 feet above the ground; readily nests in suitable boxes. Incubation takes about 26 days and is done mostly by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Eastern Screech-Owl Gray Morph: Feeds on mice, rats, chipmunks, squirrels, shrews, bats, and moles. Searches for prey while in flight, rather than from a perch.


Eastern Screech-Owl Gray Morph: Call is an eerie, mellow, muted trill given during mating and nesting seasons. Each call lasts 2 to 3 seconds and contains about 35 notes. Also gives a descending whinny call; female may bark or hoot when defending the nest.

Similar Species

Eastern Screech-Owl Gray Morph: Western Screech-Owl has gray to black bill and different call. Whiskered Screech-Owl is smaller and does not occur in range.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater. 
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X