Birds of Seabrook Island

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  Screech Owl
 
 

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  Order Strigiformes - Nocturnal Birds of Prey (Owls)
   Family Strigidae - Typical Owls
      Subfamily Buboninae

  Owls are a relatively homogeneous group. Raptorial adaptations of their feet and bill, soft plumage, and largely nocturnal habits set them apart from other birds. Their eyes are directed forward to provide binocular vision. There is a facial disc behind the ear openings (involved in localizing sound and capturing prey).
Typical Owls have an inner toe that is shorter than the middle toe. Their facial disc is more or less circular. 
 
The owl that could...
 
     
  Eastern Screech Owl, Megascops asio
 
  Cornell     USGS     WIki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Uncommon, breeds / Uncommon (irregular), breeds?
            MIXED WOODS
 
 
   The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl that has a round facial disk with ear tufts. They are barred and have short dark streaks on the breast as adults. The common morph is gray but individuals may be brown overall or even "red" (a bright rufous color). Their feet are small and their eyes are tinged orange. They are relatively small as owls go - only about seven inches long although they are a hand-full). When caught in a mist net left up overnight, they are unusually docile for a hand-held bird. Although their talons could do damage, they are usually relaxed when held (I'd rather hold a Screech Owl than a Red-winged Blackbird)...
   Screech Owls are found in open woodland, deciduous or mixed forests, parklands, and residential areas.
Screech Owl
 
Screech Owl
     
Young EasternScreech Owl. Ohio
   
  RANGE: Eastern Screech Owls breed broadly across the eastern states, extending west to the edge of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. In the east they extend south to the central coast of Mexico. [The Western Screech Owl, Otus kennicotti, is now regarded as a separate species. It ranges from the mountains west to the Pacific coast and north to southern Alaska.]
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Screech owls nest in tree cavities (including Wood Duck boxes) or a hollow stump. The use the remaining lining from the previous nest and add feathers and fur from their food. They lay 4-5 (2-8) eggs which the female (with some help) incubates for 26 days. The male feeds the female on the nest. Young hatch synchronously. Young are semialtricial and both parents bring them food. They leave the nest after 27 days and may be fed by both parents for some time. Both parents are often in the nest together and roost together.
  DIET: They eat large insects and small vertebrates (mammals and birds) and arthropods and even fish. They are nocturnal and crepuscular. They sit on a perch and swoop down to take prey. They may also catch flying insects. Sound plays a role in locating their prey.
  VOICE: Their song is a descending whinny with a falsetto quality. They also have a tremolo song, a trill uttered on one pitch for up to 3 seconds. Their calls are easy to imitate and they will talk to you if you call. [Playing a tape or imitating their call often induces a variety of small birds to "mob" the source - they congregate around the source, scold, and actively try to locate the predator. This is a trick you can use to bring birds to you to identify.]
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook (breeds). Kiawah - uncommon year-round, breeds.
      Coastal - Common permanent resident. Hilton Head - common permanent resident. Cape Romain - common year-round, breeds.
         Huntington Beach
- uncommon, year-round.
      Caw Caw - common year-round, breeds. ACE - Uncommon year-round, breeds.
   Kiawah Island banding - Cougar Island - 1 Sep 2011. The Preserve 1 Feb 2011.
   CBC: ACE 2, 6, 1, 1, 1, 3, 2, 2; Charleston 6, 4, 0, 2, 3, 9, 6, 6;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 1, 0; Hilton Head 3, 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, 4, 3; Sun City/Okatie 0, 4, 0, 4, 0, 1, 2, 1:
            McClellanville 41, 27, 12, 3, nc, 3, 10, 6; Winyah Bay x, x, 6, 34, 48, 22, 25, 32; Litchfield/Pawley's 2, 16, 2, 8, 2, 7, 17, 17.
   SCBBA: Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown, Horry Counties. Records scattered.
   P&G: Fairly common resident. Egg dates : 9 March - 11 May.
   Avendex: 1 report. 16 birds, McClellanville. December 19, 1982
   Potter:  fairly common t common permanent resident of woodlands, preferably conifers, through the Carolinas.
 

●  Uncommon? I've heard them singing in the late afternoon near Capn' Sam's Creek and they should be regular in wooded areas, particularly around Camp St. Christopher and Hidden Oaks. I've not done much "owling" (driving or walking around at night listening - using a flashlight to spot singing owls) on Seabrook but Eastern Screech-Owls must be relatively common here.
   David Gardner hears them irregularly at Camp St. Christopher and they have bred near the dining hall...
   Note that they will breed in Wood Duck boxes so check them out - "Mama" might be looking out the nest hole in the day..

   
   

The owl that could...  

   I was ensconced as a graduate student working on my dissertation at the Massachusetts Audubon Society school on the Hatheway Estate in South Lincoln, Members of the public regularly brought in injured birds that they thought we could help. One day a distraught gentleman brought in an Eastern Screech-Owl that he hit with his car. The owl was obviously breathing and alive. However, when I started separating the feather tracts to look for damage, the bird relaxed, rolling his head backwards, and gave every sign of being lifeless - no motion, no muscle tension, eyes closed, no evidence of breathing, etc. My response was that the poor bird had died and I requested that we keep the carcass (the public cannot legally possess most birds and we used them in education programs). He agreed and I placed the owl stretched out on his back in our freezer. About a week later, a co-worker opened the freezer to find the owl perched defiantly amid the remains of other birds' frozen bodies on which he had been feeding - acting indignant about being disturbed. We released him - fat and sassy -back to nature.
       
    Banner - Easter Screech Owl - young. Oak Openings, Sylvania, OH.
       
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