Hoo Goes There?

By Kim Scotto

Hello Nature Lovers!

After a long and snowy winter, spring is finally approaching! Starting in March, many native animals are already preparing a home for their young. Hannah and I love springtime, because we can watch baby bunnies, goslings, and tadpoles grow up! But there are some types of animals that nest this time of year that aren’t so easy to observe.

Have you ever seen an owl during the day before? Most owls are nocturnal, which means that they are active at night! During the daytime, owls will roost in trees to rest, and their brown and white feathers help them camouflage against tree bark.

 

This Saw-whet Owl almost blends into the tree! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

This Saw-whet Owl almost blends into the tree! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

Owls have large eyes to help them see at night. Since they are predators, they have binocular vision- just like humans! Look at your eyes in the mirror. Both of your eyes face forward! Prey animals, like mice and rabbits, have eyes on the sides of their heads. While owls have amazing vision, they actually mostly use their ears for hunting! They have extremely powerful hearing, and can detect a mouse rustling through the grass from 100 feet away.

 

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My, what big eyes you have! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

Since they’re tough to spot during the day, the best way to know if an owl is nearby is to listen! Owls are most vocal at night during nesting season. There are several species of owls in Delaware that nest during the months of February and March- the Barred Owl, the Great Horned Owl, and the Eastern Screech Owl.

The Barred Owl is the mostly likely to call during the daytime. It’s easily recognizable by its call: “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”

Check out this Barred Owl! Photo by Derek Stoner.

Check out this Barred Owl! Photo by Derek Stoner.

Great Horned Owls can live all across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and even in South America! They are the first in Delaware to start nesting. Their call consists of deep, soft hoots.

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I bet you can guess why this owl is called “great horned!” Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

Eastern Screech Owls can sometimes be seen hunting at dawn or dusk. They also like to live in abandoned wood duck nesting boxes. They have a call that sounds almost like a horse!

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An Eastern Screech Owl pokes its head out of a bird box! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

Think you can ID these owls for yourself? Talk a walk by a wooded area at dusk and try it out!

All sounds from Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern Region.

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