Female Gray phase eastern screech owl
Male Red phase eastern screech owl
Red phase eastern screech owl
Welcome to the Eastern
Screech Owl Research Project. The purpose of
this site is to study the Eastern Screech Owl behaviors during the winter roosting and
spring nesting periods. The winter roosting period is
typically between October to March, and the nesting
period from March to June. During the fall of 2011 we
discovered an Eastern Screech owl roosting in one of the
nest boxes we had put up. We quickly installed a webcam
into the box to watch the owl. On advice from local
screech owl expert, Dick Byers, we installed several
more owl boxes in the same area and started a study to
monitor their behaviors. Although screech owls are
fairly common little is known about their behaviors
since they are nocturnal.
During our first year of monitoring the owl boxes we had a red phase owl using the boxes which we named Hunter. In 2013 we expanded the study to include six owl boxes in a dry wetland area which we call study area 1. Study are 1 has owl boxes #1 - #6. We have also installed two owl boxes in an over grown farmland field which we call study area 2, owl boxes #7, #8, and #9. In study area 1 there is also an external pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) which we can remotely control and view all five cameras for an outside view. Study area 1 and study area 2 are about 300 yards apart.
The owl boxes in study area 1 are currently being used by a mature gray phase eastern screen owl we have named "Allie" and we have a red phase eastern screech owl in study area 2 which we have named "Dakota". At this point we do not know if these owls are male or female. The ultimate goal of this project have one of the owl boxes used for a nest in the spring mating season.
The screech owls will use the boxes during the day to roost and leave at night to go hunting. We will try and use the external PTZ camera to locate the owl at night hunting if in the range of the owl boxes. During the day we will position the PTZ camera on the box the owl is roosting in. When the owl roosts in the morning it will sit at the opening of the owl box for 1/2 to 1 hour before going in to roost for the day. Before the owl leaves the owl box at night it will sit at the opening for 1/2 to 1 hour before leaving. The PTZ camera will give you an outside view of the owl during these times.
Each owl box camera is set up to detect motion and capture photos when triggered. These photos can be viewed in our Archives Section. We also record box activity such as which boxes are roosted in, box activity, and weather data in an Excel Spreadsheet. We believe this is the first time a study such as this has been done for screech owls. For more information on the camera system click here: Camera Information.
This project is fully funded by PixController Inc. and by donations from our viewers for educational purposes. If you would like to know more about the project or become involved for educational purposes please Contact Us. We would love to hear from you!
A major part of the success of this project belongs to Dick Byers of Stahlstown, PA. Dick's intimate knowledge of the screech owls has helps us attract the birds and keep them in our study area.
April 15, 2013 Update:
During the last week of March, 2013 we realized that Allie & Dakota were a mating pair and that Allie was the female and Dakota the male. After a long courtship Allie finally picked one of our owl boxes to nest in, box #5. At the time we had pulled the camera out of this box since it was only used once as a roosting box. We moved the camera out of box #7 over to box #5 and on April 14, 2013 Allie laid her first egg. Screech owls will incubate each egg after it hatches, which is different from songbirds. We expect the first egg to hatch on May 11, 2013.