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Birds of Illinois

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Illinois Outdoors

Photo by Matt Dayhoff.

Eastern Screech Owl

Scientific Name: Otis asio
Present in Illinois: Year round
Illinois Status: Common permanent resident
Illinois Range: Statewide
Illinois Habitat: All kinds of woodlands and residential areas and parks
Winter Range: Statewide
Length: 7-10 inches, 19-24 inch wingspan
Weight: 4.27-8.61 ounces
Description: Small, reddish and grey phases (dichromatism) with feathered ear tufts.
Song: Whinnying or wavering series of notes. Most vocal in August.
Nest: Builds in hollow trees and tree cavities, often using old woodpecker holes. Will also accept specially made boxes or take over wood duck boxes. Adds no nesting material.
Eggs: 3-7 round white, most early April to late May
Broods per year: One
Food: Variety of insects, small birds, mammals, repitles and amphibians.
Habits: Hunts at night from low perches.
Notable: Can be counted by their responses to imitations of their calls, because they will call back at night and sometimes in daylight. Caution needed in day, because roost spots may be revealed to blue jays and other birds.
SOURCES—The Birds of Illinois by H. David Bohlen, All About Birds (

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