The Western Screech-Owl is a beautiful bird that lives year-round at Mount Pisgah.
It is a small owl with a length of about 8.5 inches. It has conspicuous ear tufts and yellow eyes. Its coloration and feather pattern resembles the bark of trees which allows it to blend in excellently with its surroundings. It is usually gray, but its color can vary. In northwestern humid regions, it is usually a darker brown. In arid areas, it is paler and grayer.
It is a nocturnal animal that usually leaves its roost to forage at sunset and returns a little before sunrise. It spends the day either in a cavity or perched at the entrance. During the breeding season, the male roosts near the nest cavity.
It lives mainly in forested habitats of deciduous trees. The arboretum provides the perfect environment with Oregon ash, Oregon white oak, cottonwoods, and big-leaf maple trees. These trees, especially the Oregon ash, provide plenty of cavities for shelter and nesting. In addition, the trees border open meadows where it loves to hunt.
It is a carnivore that mostly eats small mammals, such as mice, voles, and pocket gophers. Its diet also includes birds, insects, spiders, fish, lizards, snakes, and frogs.
The Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America describes its vocalization as a “Series of hollow whistles on one pitch, running into a tremolo (rhythm of a small ball bouncing to a stand-still).”
Nature is an inexhaustible source of wonder. Hope to see you out there.