The screech owl is Georgia's most common owl. In fact, screech owls commonly live in both rural and suburban areas as long as they can find open woodlands or backyards dominated by mature hardwood trees.
In rural locations the screech owl may range over 75–100 acres. However, in suburban locales its range is sometimes as small as 10–15 acres. The size of the owls home range is determined largely by the availability of food. Ranges tend to be smaller where food is most abundant.
Like all species of native wildlife that use natural cavities, suitable nesting and roosting sites are often at a premium. Each year logging, land clearing and other activities reduce the number of cavity trees. As a result, screech owls must compete for these sites with wood ducks, squirrels, starlings, house sparrows, raccoons and a host of other species.
Screech owls can often be found using abandoned northern flicker cavities. While they will nest within a few feet of the ground, most screech owls nest in cavities 10–30 feet above the ground.
- Males attract females to their territories that contain 1–2 cavities
- Each female lays 4–6 eggs which she incubates for 27–30 days
- Screech owls have one brood per year
- Young screech owls fledge in 6–8 weeks
- Nesting begins in spring
- The male feeds the female during incubation
- Both the male and female feed the young making 10–70 feeding trips per night
The plumages of the male and female are alike. Screech owls can display two color phases, reddish-brown or gray. In Georgia, most screech owls are gray; however, reddish-brown birds predominate further north.
Standing only 8 inches tall, these tiny birds appear to be miniature great horned owls.
Screech Owl Nest Box Placement & Care
- Place boxes at least 10' above ground
- If squirrels are a problem, erect boxes on metal poles
- Pour 2–3" of wood chips or shavings in the bottom of each box
- Check boxes annually. Remove leaves and other debris found in boxes
For more information, contact WRD's Nongame Wildlife/Natural Heritage Section at 478-994-1438.