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Red Morph Eastern Screech Owl Megascops asio (EASO)

ORDER: Strigiformes

FAMILY: Strigidae

Chirpa came to us in May 2016 from Hertford City. She was found in an attic after the people living there had closed up the entrance that Chirpa’s parents were using to access her. Unfortunately, she was exhibiting signs of imprinting. Imprinting happens at a young age in birds and is irreversible. When animals are fed and cared for by their parents and siblings that is how they recognize what they are. When they imprint on humans, they lose fear of us which can be dangerous to them and humans. They will not know how to interact with their own species. Other issues caused by imprinting are: not learning to survive by hunting, not knowing to be wary of predators, finding appropriate areas to live etc. For these reasons imprinting makes birds non-releasable.

Eastern Screech Owls are one of smallest owls in NC. They come in 3 different color morphs: red (rufous) morph, gray morph and less frequent brown morph. Chirpa is a red morph. These small owls are experts at camouflage and are seldom seen. They have a unique trill and whinny call that makes it easy to identify them. They eat small prey to include insects, frogs, mice, voles, bats and small songbirds. Eastern Screech-Owls are also very flexible about where they will live and tolerate humans nearby. It is one of the easier owls to attract to your yard by simply putting up an owl box.

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