Tawny/Screech owls

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Tawny/Screech owls

  • Hi everyone

    I wonder if you can help. I am lucky enough to have a tawny owl nesting in my owl box and my neighbour was saying that he has put up screech owl boxes. I am not familiar with screech owls and having looked on the RSPB site they only list Barn, Little, Long Eared and Tawny. Does anyone have any info on screech owls and if they are resident in the UK? My neighbour says they like decaying branches of trees which have hollowed out to nest in.

    Thanks a lot

  • The only owl species that breed in the UK are the ones you mentioned plus Short-eared Owls, feral Eurasian Eagle Owls and (very occasionally) Snowy Owls. The screech owls comprise a genus (Megascops) native to the Americas - there are some 27 species, mostly in South America - in North America people put up nestboxes for the Eastern and Western Screech Owls.

    The Barn Owl is occasionally known as the 'screech owl' because of its call, so maybe that's what he meant?

  • I'm about to complicate things further!!!

    I've checked some of the names in folklore for our resident owls and both the barn owl and tawny owl (in Sussex anyway!) have been known as screech owls. Although not documented as the other two species, anecdotally I have heard people describing 'screech owls' in the UK that could only be little owls!

    All three species will nest in tree hollows so that doesn't make it any clearer either!

  • hello, When I lived out in the sticks (countryside) I heard both the Barn Owl & Little Owls refered to a 'screech Owls'. I'm still a Noobie to all things RSPB but have 'some' knowledge which as you say Ian with references to folklore. Regards David

  • One other explanation for the term "Screech Owl Box" is the current trend for buying over the internet.

    It is quite possible these days to purchase nest boxes from US suppliers, Even from UK suppliers, which would be quite easily marketed as a "Screech Owl Box"

  • Thanks for all the info everyone and it makes sense that it is a local name. The owls round here 'screech' an awful lot but i have only seen tawny, little and barn owls. It is very wooded around our houses so i think it more likely they are tawny. My neighbour's friend built his boxes so i don't think the internet was involved. My box seems to have only one chick but it looks huge and i think it must be nearly ready to fly. Hope i don't miss that! Have only managed to get one good picture - the rest all being slightly blurred as the camera is set up such a long way away and is on its longest zoom. I will keep trying.

  • aiki
    The Barn Owl is occasionally known as the 'screech owl' because of its call, so maybe that's what he meant?

    A few older folk round here ( Lancashire ) sometimes use that name.