• Barn Owl
  • Barred Owl
  • Boreal Owl
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Eastern Screech Owl
    Eastern Screech
  • Elf Owl
  • Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
    Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
  • Flammulated Owl
  • Great Grey Owl
    Great Grey
  • Great Horned Owl
    Great Horned
  • Long Eared Owl
  • Northern Hawk Owl
    Northern Hawk
  • Northern Pygmy Owl
    Northern Pygmy
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl
    Northern Saw-whet
  • Short-eared Owl
  • Snowy Owl
  • Spotted Owl
  • Western Screech Owl
    Western Screech
  • Western Screech Owl
    Whiskered Screech Owl

EASTERN SCREECH OWL (Megascops asio)

Eastern Screech OwlThis is the species that gave the Screech Owls their name. Not only do Eastern Screech Owls screech, they also bark, hoot, rasp, chuckle, and whinny. Their quavering, low-pitched trill has been described as “haunting” and is often used to “set the mood” in television and movie night scenes. Once thought to be one in the same, the differing voices of the Eastern and Western Screech Owls is one reason scientists now classify them as two distinct species. Look closely and you will also notice subtle differences in the appearance of these two owls. Eastern Screech Owls have prominant dark brown vertical and horizontal markings on their chest and belly. Western Screech Owls have these markings, but in a more subtle way. The beak of the Eastern Screech is a pale greenish- yellow, while the Western Screech Owls bill is dark gray. Though the two owls’ range may overlap slightly, the Rocky Mountains seem to be the dividing line that separates them. Eastern Screech Owls live in a variety of habitats in the east, and eat a variety of foods; in fact their diet is the most varied of any North American owl. These owls will prey on most anything that runs, flies, wriggles, or swims, including earthworms, crayfish, insects, birds, and mice. As you can see, the Eastern Screech Owl is one unique bird!

Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

  • A small, grayish owl with small ear tufts, yellow eyes, and greenish-yellow beak

    Males: usually gray, but sometimes occurring in a rufous (reddish) morph; bold chest markings

    Females: similar to male

    Young: gray or grayish-brown with less distinct markings on chest; inconspicuous ear tufts
  • Height: Males 16-24 cm (6.3-9.4 in), Females 18-24 cm (7.1-9.4 in)

    Weight: Males 166g (5.85 oz), Females 194g (6.84 oz)

    Wingspan Both: 48-61 cm (18.9-24.0 in)
  • Range: east of the Rocky Mountains, from southern Canada south into Mexico

    Habitat: deciduous forests, riparian areas, parks, suburban areas

  • Extremely varied: insects, earthworms, crayfish, amphibians, reptiles, small birds, small mammals
  • Unique vocalizations: screeches, barks, hoots, rasps, chuckles, whinnies

    Males:  quavering, low pitched descending trill, series of quavering whistles

    Females: higher pitched; often duets with male

  • Nest Site: tree cavities, hollow trunks, stumps; also nest boxes, mail boxes, porch columns

    Eggs: usually 3-4, sometimes up to 7 eggs, laid asynchronously, one each day

    Incubation: 26 days
  • Nocturnal, often crepuscular, occasionally diurnal; hunts from tree perch, captures prey with feet, often kills prey on ground and eats head first before caching the body

Eastern Screech Owl Range Map

Eastern Screech Owl Range Map

Eastern Screech Owl Audio

Eastern Screech Owl Facts

Other Names: Common Screech Owl
Family: Strigidae
Closest Relative: Western Screech Owl, Whiskered Screech Owl

Conservation Status

Not globally threatened; widespread and common.