Screech owl tenant

Night owl news! The squatter squirrel has departed or been evicted by the new tenant. At last, after a year-long wait, we have a screech owl in our owl box.

I noticed her (or him) on Tuesday, as I was out covering tender plants before a predicted freeze. She seemed to be taking a midday nap, but when I got close with the camera she cracked her lids to keep a languid watch on me.

My DH made the owl box for me for Christmas in 2008, and lately I’d been suggesting we (he) might have to move the box higher to attract a proper tenant. I’m glad we won’t have to, especially as we have a great view of the box from the kitchen window.

Now I’m impatient to see owlets!

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

35 Responses

  1. Cynthia says:

    So exciting!!!

  2. Super wonderful! How lucky you are to have the new tenant.

  3. Cyndy says:

    Great shots of your new tenant! Bet the rodents stay well clear.

  4. Darla says:

    This is wonderful..I hear the hoot of the owls around here and have never considered a nesting box for them!! I’ll be thinking about that now..

  5. Debbie says:


    Wow! What wonderful photos. I can’t wait to follow along with her (his) adventures.

  6. Brent Henry says:

    Very cool. They typically like a bit more privacy to raise owlets but you have a great start.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh you lucky duck. How entertaining this will be. Plus you are helping the owls find a decent nesting area. I can’t wait to see the updates. A mouse or vole won’t have a chance in your garden.

  8. I’m so glad you got a tenant! She looks quite at home. Fortunately, owls don’t startle very easily, so you should be able to watch the family. Are you going to bring her mice? :-)


    Erm, no. I expect she’s fully capable of finding her own dinner. We’ve heard screech owls and great horned owls in our back garden and nearby greenbelt ever since we’ve moved in. There must be plenty to eat. —Pam

  9. Janet says:

    What fun! I love hearing the Screech Owls along our creek.

  10. Caroline says:

    That is thrilling! I’ll have to tell Jack; he’s bummed that we’ve had our owl box up for several months and have no tenant. (I keep telling him he should put up the bat house and we’d have owls for sure!) How high is yours? Ours is about 10 feet up and we were thinking the same thing (too low).

    Ours is probably about 12 feet off the ground, Caroline. We thought it should be higher, but, boy, it was hard enough to install it at that height. —Pam

  11. Rachael says:

    You are brave. I read that screech owls will fly at those who get to close to their nesting sites, so hubby said no owl box for me (he mows out under the tree and didn’t want to get clawed). I’m interested to hear your experience with that, if its true or not. If not, I might get my own owl box!

    I guess I am brave, Rachael. We lived with hordes of bees last summer during the drought when our stock-tank pond served as their day-long oasis. Hopefully the owl will live and let live where humans are concerned. I’ll let you know if we don’t get carried off! :-) —Pam

  12. Diana says:

    That’s really cool, and so special that you were able to photograph it to share with us! Keep us posted on its progress.

  13. cheryl says:

    Congratulations! What fun! I’ve been wanting to put up a Screech Owl box too but there are SO many squirrels on this place that I’m not convinced that the owl would win. You give me hope!

  14. Chris G says:

    How awesome Pam! Did your hubby make one from some plans he has/found?

    Yes, he found plans on the internet. I don’t know which website or I’d give you the link, but I think there are several sites with the information. —Pam

  15. Pam, congratulations!!! Screech owls are so much fun! We shared neighborhood owls at our last place and I got an in-the-face warning from one to leave ‘his’ black swallowtail caterpillars alone. This one is smart to choose your garden. There will be moths and caterpillars and lizards aplenty in your landscape.

  16. How cool!! And, great photos, as usual.

  17. commonweeder says:

    Lucky you! Owls occasionally fly by, but I don’t know where they nest in our woods. Lots of possibilities.

  18. Cool! I love that photo of the owl with one eye cracked open, keeping a watch on you. She/He looks like a grumpy teddy bear.

  19. Oh Pam,
    That is just so exciting! I do love owls and their fierce expressions. I used to pass a large saguaro cactus on my way to work and their was an owl who had built her nest in it. I loved to see her babies, but soon they left the nest and so did she. For a couple of years, the remnants of her nest remained until on year, it was entirely gone…

  20. Kathleen says:

    That is VERY exciting Pam! I can’t wait to see the little ones either ~ baby owls are adorable. Maybe you should install a camera in the box???

    I do love watching owl cams. Someone in Austin does it every year and puts the live feed on the web. We’ll leave the surveillance to other intrepid souls. I will be happy just to get an occasional peek at a baby owl, if we’re so lucky as to get a nesting pair. —Pam

  21. Brenda Kula says:

    Pam, I live in town in Tyler. I’ve been thinking about getting a nest, but didn’t know if an owl would come in town one block from a noisy street. What do you think? I would really love to lure them in!

    Brenda, our former house was more in-town than our current one, and we had great horned owls there. Surely owls like urban areas for the rodent population, eh? :-) The box can be inexpensively constructed. Seems like it would be worth a try for a screech owl. —Pam

  22. Meredith says:

    Yay! I’m going to make sure my husband sees your post to give that ever-so-gentle nudge that I want him to finish our nest box. We might be too late for the season, but it doesn’t hurt to try, and there’s always the chance next year!

  23. Terra says:

    Your dh made you a wonderful gift and I am so glad that owls have moved in. I love owls and hawks. There is a huge heritage cypress tree near our back fence and I hear an owl softly hooting in the evening.
    Bless your heart for making a home for an owl.

  24. Gail says:

    How exciting…and so encouraging for all of us who might want to add housing for different birds! gail

  25. Oooh… how cool! I’m so excited for you, Pam! (And, selfishly, I can’t wait to enjoy your future owl updates. :)

  26. Bonnie says:

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! I’m so jealous. Still have a vacancy sign on our owl house. Can your owl make some referrals to us?? :)

  27. Lola says:

    That’s great Pam. I sure hope you have some little ones to watch. I hear an owl at night here but don’t know what kind. I hope it returns this summer.

  28. Cindy, MCOK says:

    An owl for an Owl! That’s very cool.

  29. Sunny says:

    Lovely photos, a pity you couldn’t get him to smile for the photo. Then again owls aren’t the happiest looking birds in the world are they.

  30. That is truly exciting. We were just talking about building a box at the weekend. We have screech owls here as I hear them all the time at night and I once had to remove one from the greenhouse. He flew in through the window! It would be really exciting to see the young hatch. Did you get the plans from the Audubon website?

    My DH built it for me from plans he got off a website he found online. He doesn’t remember which one, but he said they’re easy to find. Between owls, foxes, deer, tarantulas, and cotton rats, you’ve got quite a wildlife scene going on in your garden. —Pam

  31. What a cool way to solve your squirrel problem. Lucky you!

  32. Jen says:

    Have you read, “Wesley the Owl?” Such a great book. Congratulations on your tenant.

  33. Town Mouse says:

    How very exciting! That’s great, too, that the squirrel got evicted. I’m still waiting, and thinking I might have to remove some branches to make the box more visible. But I’ll give it another year.

  34. MNGarden says:

    I must get my hubby to build a box.

  35. John Bell says:

    I live in South Austin, not far from the green belt, and a friend made me an owl house in October 2009. We put it up about 15 feet high in our back yard. We got an owl tenant around the week of February 22, 2010, at least that was the first we say him/her. On a number of days the owl sits in the hole for 2 to 4 hours and generally flies out about 6:45 PM. We have many squirrels and birds in the yard but that does not seem to bother the owl. I walked slowly out the door and under the tree and took some pictures but the owl did not seem to mind. Your owl looks sort of black whereas our owl has white on the top of its ears and body. It sits in the hole with almost the whole body almost out of the hole. Tonight, March 7, we heard the call on another owl and a few minutes later our owl flew out. We enjoy watching the owl in the hole as if it is sleeping.

    Thanks for the info, John. I’m encouraged by your report. In fact, when we returned home from a vacation yesterday, I saw the owl back in the box, and I’m hopeful that he/she will stay this time. —Pam