Eastern Screech Owl


Eastern screech owls have either rusty or dark gray intricately patterned plumage with streaking on the undersides. Small and stocky, short-tailed and broad-winged, they have a large round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes and a yellowish bill. Rusty birds are more common in the southern parts of the range; pairings of the two color variants do occur. A pale gray variation also exists in western Canada and the north-central United States.


Usually solitary, they nest in a tree cavity, either natural or provided by the previous activities of a woodpecker. They are strictly nocturnal, roosting during the day in cavities or next to tree trunks. They are quite common, though generally go unnoticed, and can often be found in residential areas.  Fearless defenders of their nests, screech owls will often strike unsuspecting humans on the head as they pass by at night. 

Did You Know?  

  • When threatened, an eastern screech owl will stretch its body and tighten its feathers in order to look like a branch stub to avoid detection.
  • Screech owls have feathers on their eyelids – just like the rest of their small bodies!

Our Animals

2 screech owls currently call PPZ their home – both of which were donated from MSU.


Scientific Name Megascops asio
Conservation Status IUCN: Least Concern
Size The eastern screech owl is only 6.5 to 10” in length, and has a typical wingspan of around 20”. Small and light, this owl weighs in at only 7 ounces!
Average Lifespan 12 to 25 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity.
Wild Diet Favored foods include beetles, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, and the occasional small mammal.
Found in the Eastern half of North America, from Canada’s Southern prairie provinces to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida