About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Is That an Owl Out There?

I think I saw an owl sitting in the tree in my backyard. It was a big round fluff of feathers about 8” tall (the size of a squirrel). I was distracted and when I looked for it again, it was gone. Is that possible around here in Lansing, Michigan?

Yes it’s very possible. The Eastern Screech-Owl Megascops asio is a year round resident in mid-Michigan. It has two color morphs (variations in color), reddish and gray. The gray individuals are more common in Michigan because they are better at withstanding our cold winters. Males and females look alike. The breast and belly are heavily streaked and spotted with black. They are approximately eight inches tall and weigh about 6 ounces. They have yellow eyes, ear tufts, a pale bill and make a “horselike” whinny vocalization.

Count yourself lucky if you saw a screech-owl. Their presence is rarely detected because they sleep the day away in tree cavities or man made nest boxes (and yes you can buy these houses at Wild Birds Unlimited).

While you were distracted the bird may have been routed by songbirds. Sharp-eyed Blue Jays and other smaller birds can mob Screech-Owls if they spot them during the day to remove what they see as a threat.

The Screech-Owl’s diet is the most varied of any North American owl species. It eats insects, small rodents, earthworms, fish and birds, some even larger than itself.

Screech-Owls do not migrate. They maintain home ranges throughout the winter. So keep your eyes open for another encounter.

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