Eastern Screech Owl 2000x ab BINNS 1D2A6950 copy

IN THE BACKYARD : Philadelphia early-July

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Jul 14, 2020 | by Adrian Binns

Over the long July 4th weekend I enjoyed relaxing in our backyard with a family of Eastern Screech-Owls. I first discovered them on Friday evening in the bird bath in the last light of the day.  I glanced out the window to see two adults, one red and one gray morph. Grays are the more common of the two morphs. The gray one looked larger, presumedly the female; she vanished into the darkness quickly. A moment later a juvenile gray stepped into view. The owls stayed just long enough to snap a few photos.

Eastern Screech-Owl – red male & juvenile gray

The next morning I checked the backyard to see if the owls were roosting nearby. I was delighted to find four in our Eastern Redbud tree. Three juveniles, featuring horizontal barring on the breast and belly, cozied up together on a branch. Their mother, the gray adult, was perched a few feet away.  We checked throughout the day and found that they moved around to different locations within the tree, likely to avoid the heat of the day.

Eastern Screech-Owl – juveniles, 1 red & 2 gray

We saw them for 3 days in a row. On the last day one juvenile was at the birdbath just after daybreak. A few hours later in the pouring rain Deb located the red male by himself sheltering under the dense leaves of the Star Magnolia.

Eastern Screech-Owl – juvenile gray

Most years we see or hear screech owls once or twice in the backyard. This was the first time we enjoyed hosting a family for a period of time in the backyard. Keep your ears and eyes open for surprising visitors to your own backyard this summer.

Updated July 1-14, 2020

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