You hear a screech in the night. “That must be a Screech Owl,” you think.
But it’s a case of mistaken identity. That call belongs to the Barn Owl. A Western Screech Owl’s call is a series of melodic hoots that accelerate like a bouncing ball.
This small but capable little hunter is the model for “Owliver” in the Sammi series.
The Western Screech Owl is about 8.5 -9 inches in length. It has a compact body, a large head and short ear tufts. Its grey, mottled feathers provide perfect camouflage in the woodlands where it resides. In fact, standing next to an oak trunk, this little owl almost disappears! Like all owls, the Screech Owl is an excellent raptor, feeding mostly on insects, but also small mammals, birds and reptiles.
So when you are listening at night and hear a call that sounds like a bouncing ball, say hello to the Western Screech Owl.
And if you ask me why they call them “screech” owls, I don’t have a really good answer. Some say they’ve heard Eastern Screech Owls (which look a lot like Western Screech Owls) screech. Others say that a similar small owl in Europe screeches. And others say a Barn Owl must have been flying over screeching when they decided to name this little guy.
The Eastern Screech Owl above is from an article by Robin Shreves on mnn.com. Here’s a link to the article if you’d enjoy reading about rescuing a fledgling screech owl. https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/how-i-saved-baby-screech-owl
To learn more about owls in general, explore The Owl Pages at https://www.owlpages.com/owls/