Charlotte and Lina are gray-phased Eastern Screech Owls who were both injured by cars in North Carolina. Charlotte sustained a wing injury where Lina suffered an eye injury. Neither of these birds is releasable, as they could not easily capture their prey in the wild. These two female screeches share one aviary space at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center and often nestle together in one of their boxes. This is fairly atypical because owls favor being solitary except when bonding with a mate. We believe these two females get along well due to being rehabilitated together.

The Eastern Screech Owl has many unique features including a call that is not a screech at all. These small statured owls make a series of soft trills and whinnies. They often sound like a horse, which is far from what we think of when we think of an owl’s call. The Eastern Screech Owl, like any raptor, eats only protein making it a carnivore. Charlotte and Lina each eat 1 to 2 “pups” or small rats at the Ruth Patrick. In the wild, they would devour rats, mice, small birds, crayfish, lizards and a surprising amount of insects. No seeds and berries for this bird of prey! Each day these birds will cough up an indigestible pellet of fur and bones. Breaking apart these small pellets can reveal quite the story of an owl’s diet.

Eastern Screech Owls are nocturnal and hunt predominately in the night hours. However, they can be spotted during both dusk and dawn searching for food. Their coloring can range from gray to reddish-brown. Interestingly enough, two gray screeches can produce offspring that are more reddish-brown in color. Lina is grayer in coloration than Charlotte who is more reddish-brown. Eastern Screeches have bright yellow eyes and are patterned with complex bands across their feathers to provide “tree bark” camouflage as they rest during the day. These screeches also sport feathery ear tufts that make them look like “batman” as our student visitors tell us.

Interesting Facts About Eastern Screech Owls:

  • Approx. 8 inches tall; fully grown
  • Mate for life usually one male, one female or one male, two females
  • Fly in a characteristic “U” shaped pattern
  • Both parents care for their young
Charlotte and Lina
Charlotte is on the left and Lina is on the right.

Special thanks to our generous donors who made this project possible.