Screeches See Hard Winter

The Eastern Screech Owl is at heart a very lazy hunter. Why sweat the big stuff when then world is filled with big juicy cockroaches and crickets. Life is so easy most of the year that when Houston experiences bitterly cold weather, the Screech Owls suffer as all of their prey scurry to hide in warmer cracks and crevices. During these stretches of cold weather the Wildlife Center receives unusually large numbers of adults in emaciated condition. We have had Screech Owls brought to us by car, bicycle, bus, police car, train (a track runs close to the Wildlife Center) and now by ambulance. The off-duty EMS team noticed the tiny bird on the side of the street. They wrapped it in a warming blanket and brought it to the Wildlife Center. It had suffered a head injury and was very emaciated. Prognosis is good. The Eastern Screech Owl is one of the smallest owls in the United States. Fully grown adults stand about 8 inches tall and are often mistaken for baby Great Horned Owl. As with most owls, the female is larger than the male. They come in 2 color morphs (types) gray and rufus (red). The color isn’t based on sex, location or diet. Sometimes a gray morph will pair bond with a red morph. These little owls rely on camouflage (feather color and pattern blend into the surroundings) to escape detection. The gray Screeches tend to hang out in hardwood trees like oak and the rufus tend to hang out in evergreen trees like pine and cedar. When they feel threatened they stand as tall and skinny as possible so they look like a broken of limb instead of a bird. [...]