I learned a really interesting and surprising fact about screech owls in the Audubon newsletter that I received today. But before I share, I want to remind everyone that the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) starts tomorrow, 2/13/15 and runs through 2/16/15. You will find more information about what it is, why it is important and how you can participate in my recent blog post.
The images of a Western Screech Owl in this post were taken by me last year at the BRIT's Prairie Day in Fort Worth, TX. The owl is a demonstration bird kept by one of the local bird rescue organizations. The rescue group's demo birds are generally birds that have some sort of injury that makes it impossible to re-release them into the wild. It was amazing how the little owl almost seemed to melt into the bark of a tree when the handler held it in front of the trunk. Their camouflage serves them well when their eyes are closed in sleep during the day. The photographic art image (left) of the little guy is available as a matted 4x6 print.
But what about the surprising fact I learned today about these owls? Can you imagine putting snakes in your child's crib? That is exactly what screech owl parents do to give their babies a better chance of surviving to adulthood. No, it's not so they have a food source and it is only one specific type of snake that the parents actually catch and bring to their nests without killing them. It turns out that this particular snake helps keep down populations of the insects and other vermin that would otherwise harm the baby owls. You can read about it for yourself and see some really great owl photos in the Audubon web article about owls that the newsletter linked to. In addition I did some research online before sharing this interesting fact and found a good in depth article about this relationship that I think you will enjoy.
Perhaps if you get lucky you'll get to see and count a screech owl in your bird lists for the GBBC. Happy birding!