|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Eastern Screech-Owl Gray morph|
After months of silence I am ready to start posting again.
My absence was not related to Trek-Nature in any way, it was me: I had in spring a week of fantastic vacation in Point Pelee taken birds’ photos, mostly warblers. In that week I learned that no matter how lucky I am, if I don’t have good lens I will never get good pictures. Saving every cent during wedding season, ‘The Big’ 500 mm F4 Canon finally arrived. First picture made with this lens it had to be my favorite subject -The Owls.
I took one day off from my work and drove 180km to a Cannington where Eastern Screech-Owl was seen. Lucky me, I found it and now I’d like to show it to you.
Description: The Eastern Screech Owl is a small, nocturnal, woodland Owl. There are two colour morphs, a gray phase and a reddish-brown phase.
Adult (gray phase) - facial disks dusky white with fine gray-brown mottling, bordered by black. The iris is bright yellow and the bill is gray-green, with tufts of bristly feathers around its base. Overall gray-brown, with gray narrow vertical stripes, bars, and spots on underparts, and barred wings and tail - legs light cinnamon buff, and toes are yellow.
Adult (red phase) - similar pattern to gray phase except cinnamon instead of gray - face plain light cinnamon - whitish superciliary and loral plumage.
Juvenile (gray phase) - similar to adults but indistinct stripes and bars more patterned - many feathers tipped with white Juvenile (red phase) - grayish brown, but distinctly rufescent colour overall - bars and stripes less distinct than adults.
Eastern Screech-Owls can be confused with Western Screech-Owls. One way to tell the difference is the bill colour - Eastern Screech Owls have gray-green bills while Western Screech Owls have gray to black bills. They can also be distinguished by their different calls, and only occur together locally in eastern Colorado and southern Texas.
The Eastern Screech-Owl flies fairly rapidly with a steady wingbeat (about 5 strokes/second). They rarely glide or hover, but may fly with erratic movements, when manoeuvring through wooded areas. Their wings are broad and the head is held tucked in giving the bird a stubby appearance when flying.
When threatened, an Eastern Screech Owl will stretch its body and tighten its feathers in order to look like a branch stub to avoid detection, but will take flight when it knows it has been detected. In open roosts, gray-phase birds tend to roost next to a tree trunk, whereas red-phase birds tend to roost in outer foliage, possibly because of thermal requirements.
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