Feb 20, 2017 | Featured Web Article

Winter Owls

Eastern screech owls, red morph (right) and gray morph (left).
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Many owls begin nesting in late winter. Now is the ideal time to listen for them calling at night if you have an older pine stand or deciduous woods nearby. Owls will call all night, but the first hour of dark and the last hour before sunrise are the best times to listen.

Great horned owls prefer larger, older woods near field edges where they can use their perch-and-drop style of hunting to catch rabbits and other mammals. They often call just at dusk and dawn.

Barred owls prefer older woods with an open understory and wet woods, especially along rivers and streams and in swamps. They will call any time during the night and quite often on cloudy afternoons.

Eastern and western screech-owls are opportunistic and adaptable, sometimes nesting in suburban neighborhoods and even cities. Generally quiet between March and June, they will readily answer imitations of their calls.



About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson, III, was the team captain for Watching Backyard Birds from its inception 23 years ago through his death on March 25, 2019. So much of what he wrote is timeless and remains informative, helpful, and inspiring.


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The Latest Comments

  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021