Lately, I’ve been getting really into eBird’s yard listing feature and have given the yard a thorough half hour to hour-long survey every day. At the end of today’s successful survey I considered all the birds that I really could see in the yard. Eastern Screech-Owl came into my mind as a slight possibility. I knew they were present in suburban areas with an adequate number of trees, so I thought it would be worthwhile to give it a shot.
Fast forward to tonight at 7:30, at dusk. Telling my dad “I can’t believe I’m doing this, I truly feel like an idiot,” I stepped out onto the patio and threw off some calls using the iPhone. No response. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes went by before I considered the fact that I wasn’t wearing socks and my that my feet seemed comfortably stuck to the cold, stone patio.
I decided to give it one final try, knowing that Screech-Owls will often fly in silently. Almost immediately, a small bird swooped in and perched around 20 feet up in a nearby tree. My heart skipped a beat. It was a gray morph Eastern Screech-Owl! It began to softly call and, after briefly putting the spotlight on it and getting my looks, I ran inside to drag everyone else out.
It was my utmost privilege to be able to show the wonderful little owl to all of my family save my mom, who was cooking dinner (we’ll get it for her on another night!). Around halfway into the viewing, a second bird swooped in. We were so concentrated on the main attraction, however, that we didn’t see where it landed, but it was undoubtedly another Eastern Screech-Owl, indicating we had a PAIR going in the neighborhood!
Finally, our wonderful friend disappeared into the night and we retreated inside to enjoy a wonderful meal. I decided almost immediately to purchase a nest box to try to entice these birds. I now know much of my free time will now be devoted to battling it out with the starlings and HOSPs!
What a bird for less than an acre of suburban property. Shows how eBird has really changed my birding….