Those Soundly Sleeping Screech Owls

Published in 1973

We had given little thought to the sleeping habits of Screech Owls (Otus asio); in fact, we had seldom thought of them at all except when we heard them a-screeching, until a Wood Duck (Aix spansa) nest box program was begun on the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge some years ago. Normally, these boxes are checked twice yearly, once in mid or late winter to insure that they are in good condition, properly located, etc., and again in late summer or early fall to determine the degree of use. Late summer checks indicate the little owls make some warm-weather use of the boxes, for unhatched Screech Owl eggs, feathers, rodent and fish bones, and other owl sign are found. It is the late winter check, though, that reveals the owls themselves, most of them sleeping like Rip Van Winkle. For example, a check of eighty-two boxes during the last week of January and first week of February, 1973, showed ten Screech Owls, seven red phase and three gray phase, inside the boxes in various states of somnolence.

Author: Thomas Z. Atkeson and Harold Johnson
Volume Number: 21 Year Published: 1973
Issue Number: 1-2
Page Number: 15

Link to article: 21 No. 1, 2_1973_p15-16.pdf
Link to the full issue of BirdLife: 21 No. 1, 2_1973.pdf