eastern screech owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Otus asio asio


Eastern Screech Owls have large heads with large yellow eyes, a yellow beak, and white eyebrows. They have two tufts on the top of their heads which appear to be ears but are really feathers. They also have feathered toes. Eastern Screech Owls can have two different types of coloration, either red or gray. These different types of coloring are called phases. Color has no relationship to the age or sex of the owl.


The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl that stands approximately 7-10" tall and has a wingspan of 18-24". It weighs approximately 6-7 ounces. As with other types of owls, the female is generally larger than the male.



Screech Owls have an extremely varied diet and will feed on nearly anything that is smaller than themselves, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Mice and moles make up the majority of their diet. At Cosley Zoo, the Screech Owls are fed quail, rats, and mice.


Eastern Screech Owls begin nesting in March in natural tree cavities or the abandoned nests of other animals. The female will lay up to 5 small eggs at a time. After the eggs are laid, females incubate them while males guard the nests. Incubation takes an average of 30 days. The eggs generally hatch in the order they were laid, so that all the young are not born at the same time. Chicks begin to fly about 4 weeks after hatching. Screech Owls mate for life.

Shelter and Space Needs

Screech Owls are found in many different types of habitats, including woodlands, orchards, and backyards with many trees. They avoid dense forests where the Great Horned Owl, one of their major predators, lives.

Life Expectancy

Eastern Screech Owls have the potential to live 8-10 years in the wild. However, because of high mortality rates for both juveniles and adults, very few of them make it to that age. In captivity, their lifespan can be as high as 13 years.

Importance to Man

As predators, Eastern Screech Owls help to control the populations of pest species including mice and insects.

Fun Facts