Identify: Owls of Iowa
The nighttime serenade of these nocturnal creatures creates a world of mystery and adventure. Their camouflage colorations blend into the woodland background, making them fade out of focus as they disappear among the trees. It is thrilling when one catches a glimpse of an owl silently traveling on soft, fringed wings. Although they are difficult to spy, you can easily hear their calls floating on the wind and slipping through the trees, giving away their locations. In this blog, we will discuss owls that are year-round residents of Iowa.
Eastern Screech Owl
• Listen to the Eastern Screech Owl’s low trembling whinny sound by visiting this link: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/sounds/Owl_EasternScreech_Whinny.mp3
• Standing at only 8-9 inches tall, this common owl is the smallest owl of the year-round residents. Since these owls are so small, they must be on the lookout for predators, including other owls.
• Eastern Screech Owls live east of the Rocky Mountains.
• These owls have two color phases—red (rufous) and gray. Although both color phases can be found anywhere in their range, only about 1/3 of the owls will be rufous and are more common to the east.
• Their dinner menu includes insects, worms, crayfish, small birds and mammals, as well as the occasional bat. They will hide and store uneaten food in tree hollows for up to four days.
• Males claim and establish territories by calling and defending well suited locations.
• Male courtship rituals include bowing, hopping, snapping their beaks, and offering the female food.
• Eastern Screech Owls nest in cavities, often in trees or nest boxes where they lay 2-6 white eggs. The male will feed the female while she is brooding eggs.
• These mostly monogamous birds will stay together for life. Occasionally, a male may mate with a second female. Often times, the second female will evict the first female and lay her eggs within the existing nest then raise both clutches as her own.