More about Screech Owls
February 06, 2009
On my last post on Screech Owls, I wrote that "Screech Owls
come in two basic colors, red and gray. Although the term “phase” is
used to describe these two colors, the owls do not change from one
phase to the other.
A reddish-brown screech owl is always reddish
brown, and a grayish-brown Screech Owl always remains grayish brown."
That drew the following question from a friend of this blog: "Do Screech Owls always pick mates of their own color phase? And if two different color-phased owls mate, what color are the offspring? This is not a riddle—it’s a real question."
The answers are: Red-phased and gray-phased Screech Owls can and do mate. My first pair of Screech Owl neighbors, in 2005, were a red-phased male and a gray-phased female.
Because I had not installed a camera in the nesting box, I do not know if any of the owlets survived, let alone their coloration. But from what I understand, the two gray-phased owls of two years ago had both red-phased and gray-phased offspring. The coloration seems random.
Females are typically larger than males, and two-thirds of all Eastern Screech Owls are typically gray. More on Eastern Screech Owls here.
Western Screech Owls are only gray-phase, and have black bills. More on Western Screech Owls here.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all solid Screech Owl photos were taken by Jerry Barrack. Mediocre or lousy shots are likely mine.
Questions of comments on Screech Owls. E-mail me here.