Eastern Screech Owl Megascops asio
9 May 2014
I always think that owls and rails are the "best" birds to find, simply because they are generally the most difficult. Eastern Screech Owl is a strictly nocturnal species and roosts in a cavity during daylight hours. It is quite common and I suspect that every wood lot of a hectare or more contains one or two pairs, but finding them is an entirely different matter. Sometimes during the day, they will emerge to sit at the entrance to their hole, a behaviour which, curiously enough, seems to be most obvious during the winter months, when even on a very cold day strong sunlight will bring them out to bask in its warmth. I should add that, though outside their hole, their camouflage often renders them invisible.
To say that I was delighted to find this individual would be an understatement. I first located it on 9 May and have seen it every day since. I am pretty sure that it has a mate sitting on eggs in the cavity, and there is barely room for two of them inside together.
The photographs are hardly spectacular, but we do not wish to approach the owl any closer for fear of spooking it, or in any way interfering with its breeding attempt. We have studiously avoided broadcasting the sighting and will continue to monitor the site ourselves. We can only hope that one day soon we may be looking at little owlets perched on nearby branches.