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TINY TENDER SCREECH OWL SUFFERING FROM RAT POISON

Cape Ann wildlife rehabber Erin Parsons Hutchings shared photos of an Eastern Screech Owl that she has been treating for secondary rat poisoning.

“A crowd of concerned police officers were standing around the tiny creature when animal control officer Jamie Levie entered the room. This small screech owl, no larger than a coke can, had shown up at the station in clear need of help. She was unable to fly and clearly in distress.

Officer Levie brought her to wildlife rehabilitator Erin Hutchings from Cape Ann Wildlife, Inc.

Erin did what many rehabbers do when they receive sick predatory animals – she drew the bird’s blood.

Why? To check for exposure to rat poison.

Rat poison effects an animal’s ability to clot – therefore it’s ability to heal. When enough poison has been ingested, this results in the animal’s death.

She took the blood sample yesterday. It should have clotted within 8 min. As of this morning, the owl’s blood still hasn’t clotted.

This precious creature was just doing its job helping us control the rodent population, but someone poisoned its meals.

Erin is working very hard right now to save this innocent creature. This holiday season, her rescue could use your support in their efforts to save these animals.

If donating isn’t possible, please consider spreading the word about rat poison and what it does to our wildlife.

Thank you”

For more information on how to donate, please go here

Mission Statement: Cape Ann Wildlife, Inc. is dedicated to rescuing and providing the necessary rehabilitative care to all injured, orphaned or otherwise impaired wildlife during their confinement and adjustment period with Cape Ann Wildlife to ensure their survival upon release back into their natural environment.

SCREECH OWL LOVEBIRDS

This beautiful pair of Eastern Screech Owl lovebirds has made its nest in the cavity of an ancient maple tree. The tree is on the property of a kindly and very tolerant gent, Ron, who always has a nice word or humorous comment for the many observers and photographers that have visited.

According to neighborhood lore, this is not the first year the pair has nested here. What makes these lovebirds especially wonderful to see and fun for comparing life forms is that one is a gray morph (or phase) and the other a rufous (red) morph. The color has nothing to do with the sex of the owl. There are rufous males and rufous females, and vice versa. There is also a brown morph. The gray and brown morphs are thought to have evolved to better blend with deciduous trees such as maples and oask, whereas the rufous morph is better camouflaged in pine trees.

Rufous Screech Owl at daybreak

Eastern Screech Owls in maple tree

With this pair of lovebirds I am still unsure of who is who. Sometimes you see only the red Screechie sitting in the fore, more often the gray lately, and very rarely now, the pair together. As I suspected, and as was confirmed by Mass Audubon, the male will roost with the female during nesting, which also makes it challenging to determine one from the other. The females are larger but when they are sitting side by side snuggled up against each other as they were at the beginning of courtship, it doesn’t help much in determining size.

Gray Screech Owl

My best guess is the red is the female and the gray the male, because it is the gray one I have seen heading out at night to hunt.

Screech Owls don’t create their own nests; they use abandoned woodpecker homes and other natural cavities.The Screech Owl’s nest is merely the cavity. They don’t add sticks or twigs or any nesting material and simply lay eggs on the substrate. The female lays between three to eight eggs. The male does the better part of hunting for both during incubation. After approximately 26 days the eggs hatch. The owlets grow quickly and will begin to stretch their wings at about one month old.

Screech Owls are nocturnal and are seen hunting mostly in the first hours after nightfall. They eat just about anything they can catch, from small mammals such as mice, bats, squirrels, moles, shrews, and voles to small birds such as finches, as well as doves and quail. Other prey include large insects, earthworms, toads, lizards, snakes, spiders, centipedes, and crawdads.

I haven’t heard this pair make the “screeching” sound for which they are famous, instead they make the most beautiful gentle tremolo trilling at dusk. I tried to record it and if it came out well and when I have a few spare minutes, I will post.

The tree provides food and habitat for many species of songbirds. All these birds photographed are aware of the owl’s presence and some, like the Tufted Titmice, Bluejays, and Nuthatches make it their business to harass on a daily basis.

Eastern Screech Owl range map