Screech Owl Project

 To view video of 2 pairs of eastern screech owls nesting in 2013 please visit our Blog

After observing eastern screech owls hunting in the backyard of our home office in Jensen Beach, Florida we constructed a nest box and attached it to an oak tree about 100′ from the office. The first nest box went up in the late winter of 2010 and after several invasions of honey bees and three nest boxes later, a pair of screech owls took to the box in early February of 2012. The nest box was equipped with a wireless camera with infrared lights for nighttime viewing. During the 2012 nesting season we observed the nesting behavior of a pair of eastern screech owls and watched as they fed and fledged three chicks. We identified prey items brought to the chicks and recorded number of food deliveries to the nest box and time of night they occurred. We documented the development and behavior of the chicks from hatching to eventually leaving the nest using video and still images. For the 2013 nesting season we now have two nest boxes equipped with cameras.  Our original one in Jensen Beach and a second in Melbourne Beach Florida. Please see below for some brief  notes on the biology of eastern screech owls in the United States. If you would like to build your own screech owl nest box or have one with a camera already installed, please visit these sites for more information :

www.spyonabird.com

www.allaboutbirds.org

gargravarr.cc.utexas.edu/owl/construction.html

http://www.homeadvisor.com/r/birdwatching-guide/#.WZb0bdGQz2Q

NOTES ON EASTERN SCREECH OWLS IN THE UNITED STATES (from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Screech-Owl/lifehistory)

Eastern Screech-Owls are chiefly active at night, though they often hunt at dawn or dusk, and occasionally in daylight. These versatile hunters sit and wait in the trees for prey to pass below. They tend to pounce from perches six to ten feet off the ground, occasionally snatching an insect or bat on the wing or hitting shallow water talons-first to snag fish or tadpoles. Most flights are short (less than 75 feet or so). When traveling between perches, these owls often drop, fly straight, then rise again, in a characteristic U-shaped pattern. Eastern Screech-Owls form stable matches, usually one male with one female but occasionally one male with two females. Males defend small territories containing several cavity roost spots. When nesting, the female stays in the nest hole except for brief dawn and dusk excursions. She and the nestlings are fed by her mate, though it is the female who tears the prey into small bits for the babies. At fledging, the young first hop to the ground or nearby branches, using feet and fluttering wings to climb laboriously back to safety. Young gain flight and hunting skills slowly; they depend on their parents for food for 8–10 weeks after fledging. Both parents feed the youngsters at this stage, and adults, especially the females, shelter together with the young in communal tree roosts. Gradually, as the young gain skill, they begin to roost and hunt apart from their parents and siblings.