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Jan 21, 2009 | by Kevin Loughlin

Eastern Screech Owl - red morphIt is a beautiful day –crisp and sunny, yet windless– here in my town, King of Prussia, in southeast PA. King of Prussia is an odd name for a town, I know, and it has a great history dating back to the Revolutionary War (we are right next to Valley Forge National Park, famous for Washington’s army encampment.)

In my younger years, I enjoyed all the wildlife that came to my back yard. Pheasants nested in the hole at the bottom of the old cherry tree, raising several chicks each year. Wild Turkeys, groundhogs, deer and tons of birds were a constant source of childhood entertainment. “Goin’ to the creek, mom!” was my typical exclamation followed by mom’s usual reply, “be home for dinner!”
King of Prussia is now a full-blown suburb of Philadelphia, 20 miles away. Though the town has grown exponentially since I was a boy playing in the farm field and creek behind my house, it is still a haven for wildlife. Surrounded by houses now, it is not unusual to find a half dozen deer in my yard. Groundhogs, ‘possums and rabbits are frequent visitors, and I still need to protect my trash cans from marauding raccoons. Best of all, the birds are still here. Not just the feeder birds, but the raptors as well. It is not unusual to see a Red-tailed Hawk fly overhead or a Cooper’s Hawk zip by at eye-level. I often text my friends late at night with the message: I have a screech owl calling in my yard! Sometimes I grab a flashlight to go searching for the source… usually I just sit by the window and enjoy its song.
Today, however, on this perfect ‘sun with no wind’ kind of day, Adrian and I were driving back from running a local errand before settling back to business. Adrian suddenly pulled over and said “get out!” He continued to quickly walk back the road a piece and nodded toward a broken treetop. In the crack, eyes closed and soaking in the warmth of the sun, was a red-morph Eastern Screech Owl. We enjoyed the view for a few minutes, then quickly drove the last couple blocks home to get my camera equipment so that we could share the find with our readers.


  1. witsandwiggles on January 22, 2009 at 9:43 AM

    Wow! ….just wow….!

  2. Adrian Binns on February 20, 2009 at 11:40 PM

    We have a high percentage of red morph screech owls in the Delaware Valley, maybe as high as 70%, where as the national average is about 30%. The reason is not exactly clear but it seems to be related to the amount of rainfall and humidity that we get. In areas of higher rainfall and humidity the more likely it is to have red morphs, whereas drier areas with less humidity, including the colder northern regions hold a higher percentage of gray morphs.

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