Hoot is a Red Phase Eastern Screech Owl who has been visiting the Barn Owl box that we erected last summer at Amston Lake in Eastern Connecticut. We're hoping Hoot may find a mate and they will use our box for nesting. We will mostly be off air unless Hoot is around or we are anticipating a visit. In the meantime, in addition to installing a nest cam, we will be implementing some changes to the box to make it more hospitable to Eastern Screech Owls. These changes were suggested by Chris W. Johnson who hosts the web site "Chris' Eastern Screech Owl Nest Box Cam," whom we contacted for more information on Screech Owl nesting boxes and mating habits.
The breeding season for Eastern Screech Owls in Connecticut begins in January and February with pairs beginning to form and to defend their territories, with eggs being laid from March through May.
Before the breeding season, males defend an area containing several possible nesting sites. As part of patrolling their territories, males will stay at each of their sites in turn, a different site every night. Hoot has been at our site three times that we have observed. He first appeared at our box, perched in the doorway and sunning himself in the afternoon sun, on January 23rd. We had anticipated his visit due to the fact that the box was being mobbed not only by blue jays but by every bird in the neighborhood, shortly before his appearance in the doorway. His next visit was on the afternoon of February 2nd, there was no sun that day but he perched in the doorway proudly surveying his territory. Hoot again appeared early in the morning of February 19th. He sat in the doorway for about an hour and then went inside to sleep the day away. He reappeared around 2:00 p.m. only to be chased back inside his box by the local birds, but he soon popped back out and remained perched unmolested until shortly after dusk, when he flew away to begin hunting and to visit his next roosting and/or nesting site.
If Hoot finds a mate, she will choose her favorite nest site from one of the nesting sites Hoot has been defending in his territory. She will also base her decision on how well Hoot has stocked it with food.
UPDATE: The nest box modifications have been postponed due to the fact that the backyard is a GLACIER right now and it would be unsafe to attempt any modifications at this time. We will attempt it in the spring once the glacier has receded and the box can be safely reached by ladder.