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Tiny screech owl makes presence known

Night caller — The Eastern screech owl’s call is more noticeable in spring and fall. © iStock

Night caller — The Eastern screech owl’s call is more noticeable in spring and fall. © iStock

A familiar voice returned to my landscape a couple of weeks ago after nearly a decade away. It’s a voice that I first heard here nearly 20 years ago.

The vocal Eastern screech owl (Megascops asio) is a tiny thing, only six to 10 inches tall and weighing four to eight ounces. Its colors range from brownish-gray to reddish-brown. It’s one of the few birds that have several color variations within the same range and brood. Their coloration resembles the bark of trees so the variation may be a camouflage. There’s no marked coloration difference between males and females, but females may be slightly larger.

The nocturnal screech owl is not endangered, probably because it has a widespread habitat throughout the Eastern United States and southern Canada. It also has a diverse diet, which includes small rodents, insects, spiders, crawfish and songbirds. They store or cache their kill to eat later.

This owl tends to be in Indiana year ‘round but seems to be more vocal in spring and fall. Courtship begins in winter and these owls usually mate for life, frequently tending the same nest for several seasons. They have three to five eggs.

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