This week, six Eastern Screech Owls, also known as "Screechies" were rescued in Palm Harbor and Dunedin. One was slightly injured but checked out okay out by a wildlife veterinarian and is expected to be releasable.
Eastern Screech Owls nest in natural cavities or in specifically made Screech Owl boxes. Sometimes a structure is not sound and baby screechies, typically called owlets, are found on the ground. Some broods have as many as five siblings. If you find screech owlets on the ground call the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary at 727-391-6211 or the Clearwater Audubon Society at 727-442-9140. They can be checked and the possibility to reunite the young with the parents can be evaluated. If you want to make your own Screech Owl box this website has a good plan-ShawCreekBirdSupply
Eastern Screech Owls are wonderful birds to have in your yard. They eat rodents and roaches and provide natural pest control. They can easily be poisoned by eating rodents that have been exposed to toxins and that in turn, reduces the number of owls available to hunt and the rodent population increases. They are a small owl measuring between 6.3 and 9.3 inches. Rather than the typical hoo, hoo, hoo' sound that other owls make, the screech owl whinnies and trills. You might not be able to look for them at night, but you sure can listen for them. Here is a site with recordings of screech owls- AllAboutBirds.org
I mounted a Screech Owl box made by the Boy Scouts about three weeks ago. The box is about 12 ft. high on a palm tree and overlooks a horse pasture. Soon a predator guard will be installed on the tree as well. Basically, that will be a thin piece of sheet metal that goes around the tree. This will prevent raccoons from attacking the parents or the young and hopefully it will work for snakes as well.
Nature has a way with its' little surprises however, and over spring break two Eastern Bluebirds moved into the box. This called for the installation of a bluebird box for them to use next time. Hopefully, they will be successful and the deterrents work and next year we'll have both screech owls and bluebirds.