The Transformation of an Eastern Screech Owl

2 Aug

Have you ever wondered what it looks like when a baby owl grows up? Well now you’ll never have to wonder again because we captured this little guys moments as he grew from a baby to the adult bird he (almost) is. This Eastern Screech owl came to us after he/she was found in someone’s driveway along with a sibling of his/hers. He/she had mud caked all over its poor little feet. Unfortunately the sibling didn’t make it, but we tried are very best to help it.

His first day at Blandford. May 9, 2013

His first day at Blandford. May 10, 2013

After cleaning the poor baby bird off and finding nothing else wrong with it, we put him/her in our resident Screech Owl’s, Pip and Dr. Whoo, cage where they could foster it. It’s important that baby animal imprint on their correct species so that when they grow they know what it takes to become the best adult owl they can be. Because we wanted to limit the interaction the little Screech had with humans we covered up their cage.

The baby screech pictured with our permanent resident Pip

The baby screech pictured with our permanent resident Pip. May 10, 2013

The little Screech took right to our permanent residents, especially our friend Dr. Whoo. Dr. Whoo came to us after being cut down from his tree with a chainsaw. Even after that traumatic event, he never lost his attitude. He passed that attitude right on to our little Screech friend. It wasn’t long before he/she would hoot and holler every time we came near its cage!! Which was great!!!

1 week after coming to Blandford. He's perching now!

1 week after coming to Blandford. He’s perching now! May 17, 2013

 

Taking a bath! Look I see adult feathers coming in!! May 20, 2013

Taking a bath! Look I see adult feathers coming in!! May 20, 2013

 

We are one feisty bird! May 23, 2013

We are one feisty bird! May 23, 2013

 

We have adult tail feathers now!!! May 31, 2013

We have adult tail feathers now!!! May 31, 2013

Adult feathers start to grow from the bottom up. About a month in he/she already had its tail feathers and most of its flight feathers. This little guy/gal was starting to buzz around their enclosure. He/She has to make sure they are working those wing muscles!!!

We are a mean bird (which is great!) Look at those pretty wing feathers. We may be a red-phase screech. June 21, 2013

We are a mean bird (which is great!) Look at those pretty wing feathers. We may be a red-phase screech. June 21, 2013

There are two phases or colors of the Eastern Screech Owl. The gray phase, which both of our residents are, though Dr. Whoo does have a lot of red in him. Then there is the red phase, which it seems our little owl friend will be. There’s debate on what makes a Screech a red phase or gray phase. Some say it’s location, some say other things. Here at Blandford we typically see gray phase Screeches, but we have a red phase that lived on the property last year. The color morphs do not tell the sex of a bird. Unlike songbirds, an owl’s sex depends on size. Generally, a female owl is larger (about 25%) than a male owl.

Hanging out with my best friend Dr. Whoo. He's the world's greatest Dad! Do you see all my pretty feathers? June 29, 2013

Hanging out with my best friend Dr. Whoo. He’s the world’s greatest Dad! Do you see all my pretty feathers? June 29, 2013

 

Almost has all his/her's feathers in. All that's left is that pesky head. July 19, 2013

Almost has all his/her’s feathers in. All that’s left is that pesky head. July 19, 2013

 

Just a few downy feathers left on his/her neck and face. Almost not a baby any more!!! August 1, 2013

Just a few downy feathers left on his/her neck and face. Almost not a baby any more!!! August 1, 2013

Today the little guy/gal is almost an adult! Our two resident Screech’s absolutely love to foster little ones (as far as we can tell :D) The next step in recovery is getting him/her outside in a rehab enclosure to see how his flight is. This also gives it the chance to build up more wing muscle. Next, we have to see if it can hunt. We will trap live mice and release them for him and hope that he/she catches them!

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2 Responses to “The Transformation of an Eastern Screech Owl”

  1. Darla Alexander August 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Wow – how fast he/she is growing up! Thank you for chronicling her/his passage and caring for her..him until ready for the wild.

  2. Scott August 24, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Having recently heard–but never seen–the local screech owls, I’m delighted to see these pictures. Thanks for sharing the story!

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