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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote®: Help Screech-Owls Find Homes

Air Date: Week of January 19, 2018

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

Screech-Owlet in a nestbox. (Photo: Ashleigh Scully)

The tree cavities left behind by woodpeckers are an ideal home for Screech-Owls, but they’re often in short supply. In this BirdNote®, Michael Stein describes how you can make an enticing home for a Screech-Owl pair, with just a few pieces of wood, a saw and a spare hour or two.

Transcript

[MUSIC: BIRDNOTE THEME]

CURWOOD: In this year of the bird, you might feel like lending them a hand yourself – and Michael Stein has a suggestion in today’s BirdNote®.

BirdNote®: Screech-Owls Are Looking for a Home

[Western Screech-Owl, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/109017, 0.06-.09]

STEIN: Looking for a project for a winter’s day? Consider giving screech-owls a helping hand. Eastern and Western Screech-Owls span the wooded areas of the continent, nesting in naturally occurring tree cavities left vacant by large woodpeckers. Such natural housing opportunities are often in short supply, though. And that’s where you come in – because screech-owls will happily take to nestboxes.

[Eastern Screech-Owl, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/107366, 0.06-.08]

STEIN: In fact, they’ll nest in Wood Duck boxes, flicker boxes, and even the occasional mailbox. But you can build an ideal home for them with a few pieces of wood, a saw, and an hour or two of your spare time.


Eastern Screech-Owlets inside a nestbox. (Photo: Hunter Desportes)

The owls like an area with ample trees, but they’ll also nest right next to your house. You’ll need to attach the box to a tree or post at least 10 feet above ground, which helps the owls sneak in and out. When leaving the box, an owl drops low to the ground and stays low in flight for some distance, to elude potential predators – like larger owls or raccoons.

Getting a nestbox up in January might seem too early, but in fact screech-owls start courting as early as February, with the male hooting near a potential nest site. So now is the ideal time to get started.

[Western Screech-Owl, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/109017, 0.06-.09] I’m Michael Stein.

[Eastern Screech-Owl, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/107366, 0.06-.08]
###
Written by Bob Sundstrom
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2005-2018 Tune In to Nature.org January 2018 Narrator: Michael Stein

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Links

This story on the BirdNote® website

 

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