The eastern screech owl is a small owl found in the eastern United States and north eastern Mexico. Although they are fairly common many people have never seen one. Looking at the picture above you may be able to guess the reason why? Eastern screech owls have pretty good camouflage. They are also primarily nocturnal or crepuscular, so they are most active at night or dusk and dawn. As a cavity nester they usually spend their day in a tree cavity or perched in dense tree foliage.
This owl was quite popular back in March when I photographed it. On cold sunny days he would sit in the entrance to this cavity and sun himself. Many photographers new his location so he often had quite an audience. Unfortunately some photographers care more about a picture than they do the bird and while I was there one such photographer was playing calls to try and get the bird to open its eyes. The owl turned out to be smarter than the photographer and was not fooled. After the photographer left, I guess he did not like being confronted, the owl rewarded the rest of us by opening one eye to check us out.
Eastern screech owls also can come in a red color. This is Mestaae, an education bird at The Raptor Center. In the eastern portion of their range only about 30% of the birds are this rusty color but in the western portion of their range, which includes Minnesota, only about 15% are red. We have had 3 eastern screech owl education birds since I have volunteered at The Raptor Center, only one was gray the other two, including Mestaae, where both red.