Eastern Screech Owls are one of my favorite birds, so this photo series is very special to me. It took many weeks of persistence and determination (and bike rides) to complete this series. Many days I saw nothing at all, but I ended up with more than expected.
(Here’s an excellent video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with more info about the Eastern Screech Owl.)
In April, I saw a different owl in the same hole. In this pairing, the female above is a red morph and the male below is a grey morph, but sex does not determine color.
By May, leaves blocked view of the hole, but I was able to get some pictures through the branches when the wind participated and the owl was willing to pose:
May 25: Confirmation that the owls had successfully bred this season – two adorable nestlings peeked out of the hole…
…and I got an unexpected shot of mom snuggling with one of them. I made sure to stay out of view to not upset her – she should feel safely camouflaged while in her hole.
Three fluffy nestlings filling up the tree hole:
May 27: It must have gotten too crowded inside the hole, so mom stood guard from a nearby branch. I could hear her sing to them occasionally – it was beautiful.
The owlets looked bigger and more alert every day…
…mom was still watching and singing nearby. Since it’s the daytime, she mostly just sleeps. I suspect at night she actively hunts to feed three hungry little owlets. I’ve read the father helps too, but I haven’t seen him lately.
May 29: One owlet out of the tree and perched on a nearby branch.
May 30: Just one day later, the first fledgling already looked bigger, less fluffy, and more curious about the world. It instinctively knows to hide amongst the dense leaves, but I managed to find a few angles for unobstructed photos.
I stopped by a few more times but couldn’t locate any of the owls and the tree hole seemed unoccupied. I do not know what happened to the other two nestlings… Did they leave the hole? Did they succumb to nighttime predators? I don’t know, but I wish the whole owl family health and good luck.