Posted by: atowhee | June 17, 2014


I checked on nest sites on BNA Online. There is only one description of Western Screech-Owls using artificial nest site: “One pair nested in a pipe that stuck out horizontally from old mine tailings in sw. Idaho (J. Marks pers. comm.).” Yet they use a variety of natural sites from magpie nests to woodrat nests.
This pair nested in the hollow, insulated wall of the barn which is used as a studio. No doubt the original excavation was made by a squirrel or other rodent. The owl family may have nested on top of the insulation in the wall. The fledglings could not have gotten into the barn except by fledgling in the wall and then exiting the nest space through a rodent-made hole in the interior sheet-rock.
Cornell’s “All About Birds” says this species readily uses nest boxes. Here in Ashland I see them use those boxes almost daily for roosting but have no evidence they’ve ever actually nested in one. The hollow wall of a barn would make a fine, accidental nest box in the owl;s way of thinking, I presume.

Being known as a bird brain, I get these phone calls, or somebody mentions off-handedly, “We have some pygmy owls in our barn.”
I knew they wouldn’t be Pygmy-Owls but the small size indicated they would turn out to be Screech-Owls. Sure enough. Here are our neighbors’ barn guests:
The first two images are mother owl, who sleeps in a separate room of the barn.
wso elderThis is the eldest owlet, scrunched up against the skylight, probably warmer there.


This is the junior owlet, still wearing his original fuzzy, pale plumage.


  1. Cool post, Harry. I think your “eldest owlet” might actually be one of the adults. In my experience, juveniles that have fledged in May or June don’t look this well-pattterned even by August. Would that mean they only have one survived baby?

    • I now know that there were atr least two surviving fledglings. So one may have been an attendant adult inthe previous picture.

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