Eastern Screech-Owl

Megascops asio
Eastern Screech-Owl specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A small (7-10 inches) owl, the Eastern Screech-Owl is most easily identified by its size, streaked breast, and ear-like feather tufts. This species has two color morphs, one with gray plumage and the other with rusty-red plumage. Male and female Eastern Screech-Owls are similar to one another in all seasons. The Eastern Screech Owl inhabits much of the eastern United States and southern Canada west to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. This species also occurs in northern Mexico south to the Tropic of Cancer. Eastern Screech-Owls are non-migratory in all parts of their range. Eastern Screech-Owls inhabit a variety of deciduous, evergreen, or mixed woodland habitats. This species may also be found in more built-up areas, and can sometimes be found in large urban parks. Eastern Screech-Owls eat a variety of small animals, such as insects, songbirds, and rodents. Like most owls, the Eastern Screech-Owl hunts almost exclusively at night, making it difficult to observe. This owl may be more visible when it is active at dusk or just before sunrise, and birds roosting in trees may be seen during the day with the aid of binoculars. As its name suggests, the Eastern Screech-Owl produces a high-pitched hooting call which may be used to identify this species at night.

DC Information

Fairly common permanent resident – the only owl that occurs in the city streets as well as in the parks and nearby countryside. There are two color phases, red and gray, regardless of sex or age. The nesting season is from late March to mid-July. Female is larger than male.

Specimen Information

This is the record for the bird on the left.
Date:  5/25/1905
Collected By:  Theodore S Cox
Locality:  Brightwood, DC
Sex:  Immature
Catalog ID:  192733
 
This record is for the bird in the middle.
Date:  5/25/1905
Collected By:  Theodore S Cox
Locality:  Brightwood, DC
Sex:  Immature
Catalog ID:  192734

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC62774 Megascops asio (Eastern Screech Owl)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52455 Megascops asio (Eastern Screech Owl)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52456 Megascops asio (Eastern Screech Owl)

Images