In early June momma Screech brought two little fluffy Owlets around to show. They were barely flying – more like bombing around … and they were very needy with their calls for food! Here is mom below, with one of her fledgling chicks. I have a long relationship with the screech owls around our neighborhood and every year we get to see them as they perch and hunt in and around our half acre for insects here in Lehigh.
The tree below is over our Labyrinth and I was sitting under it when she brought them by. Yes, I try to always have a camera on hand in the Backyard Universe just in case!
Mom and Owlet
Above and below a fluffly barely fledgling Screech closer up, sitting in the tree above with mom. Mom had left them up in the tree overhead while she went off to hunt in daylight. The only issue is, during daylight hours they can be attacked by other birds that find them and this was an open area. I helped mom out and kept the mocking birds and jays away while the little ones sat up in the tree calling for mom to bring them yummy beetles from nearby backyards. They were not that far from their nest in a clump of Sabal Palms behind our lot. (We let our native yard grow tall and wild in the back for cover and hunting areas for the little ones.)
In the below images they are much older but still sporting some pin feathers. The don’t need mom to watch after or protect them from attacking birds. They know to hide in the shadows during daylight hours until nightfall.
Hiding in among the Bombax tree leaves… a wide eyed fledgling Screech. 300mm Nikon lens
I am outside, after dinner looking for the screeches. Sometimes after a rain I hear them or late at night calling with their soft whinny call… Eventually they will move out to other areas of the neighborhood to hunt over the Summer. I hope they are greeted with as much awe, enjoyment and safe haven as they are met with here on the half acre. Owls like this hunt insects, small bats, mice and snakes. In yards sprayed with pesticides, they may suffer through their food sources that are impacted by the pesticide applications.
I have found that when our rodent or snake numbers go up here at the Backyard Universe that we often see an influx of hawks and owls to feed on them. It’s an intricate, connected age old cycle that will balance itself out if we allow it to and don’t interrupt it via artificial and deadly means. If you would like to build Screech Owl Nest Boxes for your yard, go to this link in my prior article and read down it for the link to the nesting box instructions.
The Backyard Universe is truly a hub of activity lately… every evening the mockingbirds are giving the little Screech Owls a difficult time when they make their appearance known. You can’t miss the disturbed calls of the mockingbirds and the hisses of the Screech owls. It was at this latest activity that I decided to read online about Screech Owl Boxes. They had a nest last year in an old palm snag however that snag fell over this year. After doing some research I ran across a website for the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center located in Palm City Florida. They actually had a .PDF file with information about Screech owls AND how to build nesting boxes for them. It just happens that the boxes for the Screech Owls can also be used by the American Kestrel. Click here for the Download .PDF link to make your own Screech Owl Nesting Box.
We placed our box up onto a Bombax (African Floss) Tree, part of a stand of them that is along the back of our half acre. Now we watch and wait to see if the box is noticed and who takes interest! The box took only a couple hours to make and cost us $13.00 in pine. It will weather over time. Please be sure to follow the directions of the .PDF, don’t paint the box. Now when I go outside I have yet another possible source of activity to keep an eye on. We have raised other clusters of Screech Owls here, watched them grown up… I hope you will consider placing a box in your neighborhood backyard. A big thank you to the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center for making the easy to follow directions available. Check out their website! AND be sure to visit my new Photo Blog called Metta Nature Photography Click on the images there for full page views of everything else *outside* of my BackyardUniverse coverage.
Image of an Eastern Screech Owl sitting on a stump in the BackyardUniverse.