Photo © Kathy Adams Clark

Eastern Screech-Owl

The eastern screech-owl is inappropriately named: they don’t screech. Instead, they make a whinny sound that’s often monotone or an up-and-down tremolo. The adult is about the size of a 12-ounce soda can — this owl is small! They’re mostly nocturnal and are found in a wide variety of open woodland habitat, including urban backyards. Songbirds that discover screech owls (or other owls) at their daytime roost will often scold or mob the owls. What’s unusual about the eastern screech-owl is that it comes in two color morphs — rufous and gray — with rufous being dominant in the denser, wetter forests of East Texas while gray is found more in the drier upland forests of Central Texas. Some authors identify a third color morph, brown, found south near the Gulf Coast, while other authors refer to that as simply a diluted variant of the rufous morph. Whichever color your backyard screech owl might be, that bird lives its entire life in that specific color morph — it never changes color with the seasons or with age.

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