Eastern Screech-Owl

This owl is rather easy to identify by call and can be found in a variety of habitats and suburban habitats. In Maine, the species has been documented breeding only along the southwestern coast. They get more vocal as spring approaches and typically vocalize throughout the night. Screech-owls nest in tree cavities in deciduous or mixed woods and occasionally nests in bird boxes.  The species can tolerate and may actually prefer breeding in or on the edge of lightly developed areas with less than 10% forest cover. They usually avoid areas with Barred Owls present. Availability of suitable cavities of sufficient depth away from other large owls may be the limiting factors in Maine.

Safe Dates: March 1st to July 1st (applicable for only the S or H codes).


Breeding Evidence: For observations of a silent Screech-owl within the safe dates and in appropriate breeding habitat, use code H. If you hear the monotonic thrilling song of Eastern Screech-owl within the safe dates, use code S. The simplest way to upgrade this to a “Probable Breeder” is to listen again at the same location 7 or more days later to upgrade the code to S7. As they mature, young birds will leave the nest cavity and climb nearby branches or trees. They remain in the care of their parents for 8-10 weeks. For any observations of recently fledged young not yet capable of flight, use code FL. If there is evidence of young in the nesting cavity, use code NY, but note that we strongly discourage closely approaching or disturbing nesting birds.

Image courtesy of Raul F.

Audio courtesy of Todd Wilson.

© 2019 Logan Parker

The Maine Nightjar Monitoring Project is a part of the Maine Natural History Observatory