Screech Owl Update 11/24/2017
We are currently streaming 8 screech owl box cams. The owls are using the boxes for day-time roosts until nesting season starts sometime in March 2018. We have two screech owls using the boxes for roosting this season, the male Dakota, and a new gray phase owl.

 
 Owl Box 1


 Owl Box 2


 


Owl Box 3


Owl Box 5


Owl Box 7
 
Owl Box 8

Owl Box 9

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What will you see

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.


Recent Activity

The above photos were captured by motion activated cameras
in the owl boxes and captured for your review


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. 

In our study we fitted nine artificial owl boxes with a small infrared video camera and a small audio MIC. The video cameras used were 1.20 in diameter and 4 long and include (8) infrared LEDs which produce an infrared illumination source in the 940nm range, which do not emit any visible red glow.

There is a pair of screech owls named Allie & Dakota that have been using the boxes since 2013. Allie is a female gray phase screech owl and Dakota is a red phase male screech owl. In 2013 the pair nested in box 5 and Allie laid 3 eggs, however, the eggs didn't hatch. The owls have not nested in the boxes until 2017. Allie will do all of the incubating and Dakota will feed her at night. Allie will take short breaks and leave the nest at night. Often Dakota will come to the nest while she leave. During the day Dakota will roost close by usually in one of the other boxes.

Screech owls will typically lay 3-5 eggs in a brood, and only have one brood a year. Eggs are laid 2 days apart the the female will start incubating eggs as she lays them. The incubation period is 27-35 days and the nesting period is 28-30 days. After the owlets leave the nest they will spend another 30 days with the parents learning how to hunt.
 


The screech owl boxes are in a wooded area in a creek bottom.
Boxes are about 50 yards from each other.

 


The base station consisted of a two 4-channel video server which was connected to the Internet. The base station was placed inside an area with power and Internet access.


        Camera Map Location (click to enlarge)


Owl boxes ready to deploy

Owl box with camera

Screech owl box plans
(click to enlarge)

Winter Roosting Activity
Screech owls do not migrate; they maintain home ranges throughout the winter. During they day light hours the owls will find a roosting location and will roost until dark. The winter roosting time period is typically between October to March. Screech owls are primarily solitary except during the breeding season. Pairs occasionally roost together during the winter in hollow trees, nest boxes, and trees with dense foliage. The cameras enable us to view the activity inside the owl box and outside the owl box with the PTZ camera. During the day the owl boxes are often mobbed by song birds and occasionally bothered by gray squirrels.

         

         


Caching of Prey
It is a well known fact that screech owls will cache uneaten prey items in cavities. We were surprised at the number of different species cached and how long the prey items remained in the owl boxes before being consumed. The most interesting item was a wood frog (see below) which was cached on the evening of December 24th when the air temperature was only 30 deg. F. The frog was consumed over a 2-week period in stages over multiple night feedings, and was totally consumed on January 7th, 2012.

       
                    Frog                                      Mouse                                        Shrew

Box Visitors
The owl boxes do get the occasional visitor such as gray squirrels and Carolina wrens during the day and flying squirrels at night. We have observed unusual behaviors such as flying squirrels eating cached prey by the screech owls.

      
  
              
     Carolina Wren                                Gray Squirrel                             Flying Squirrel


    
  
                 Bluebirds Mobbing                 Tufted Titmouse Mobbing


Courting and Nesting

   
   
        Courtship Behavior                      Roosting Together              Laying & Incubating Eggs                 Male Feeding Female

   
        


 



 

   
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