During the Halloween season, one might expect to hear the cries of a child or two thanks omnipresent ghosts, goblins and witches, and abundant candy at every turn. But listen carefully, because those cries may also be the call of the Eastern Screech-Owl.
No bigger than a pint glass, the spooky sounding bird with its yellow eyes can be found in remote woods, suburban neighborhoods or urban parks – anywhere you find trees. They will even settle into a backyard nest box. These birds can be either mostly gray or reddish-brown patterned in ways that provide excellent camouflage against tree bark.
Mostly active after the sun goes down, Eastern Screech-Owls keep insect and rodent populations down and are also known to hunt for small birds and reptiles. Rarely seen, they are more often detected from the trilling or whinnying sounds made in the night – much like the sound of a child crying.
Listen For Yourself: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has the Eastern Screech-Owl’s call.
“Trees define the Eastern Screech-Owl’s habitat, particularly trees located near water,” says Mike Hensley, the Conservancy’s Green River Project Manager. “And while these birds boast healthy populations, Eastern Screech-Owls represent one more reason for being good steward of our state’s evergreen deciduous and other types of trees.”