Saturday, March 05, 2011

Eastern Screech-Owl in Daylight

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed this Eastern Screech-Owl along the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Since the owl was small and its cryptic plumage blended well with the trunk, the bird was actually hard to recognize, despite the large opening. When I photographed it, I initially was not sure if my hunch was right, but the photo showed that it was.

While screech-owls are primarily nocturnal predators, they sometimes emerge from their roosting places during the day, especially the late afternoon. In the winter, sitting in an opening gives them the opportunity to bask in the afternoon sun and warm themselves after a cold day of sleeping. So if you happen to be out on a winter afternoon, it is worth checking openings in tree trunks for the characteristic shape of an owl.

If you do happen to find a roosting owl, be careful about how you share the sighting and do not post an exact roost or nest location publicly. Owls can be sensitive to disturbance, so frequent visits may push an owl to change roosts, possibly to a less favorable location.