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Eastern Screech Owl Memories

by Eric Miller

Eastern Screech Owl
Mark Brown, McAllen TX

When I was young I spent a great amount of time with my grandparents in the small town of Henderson, IL, though my brother and I lived with our single mother in Peoria. Our grandparents lived in a pre-Civil War home in the town with a yard that was fenced in on three sides and bordered by a building, one that had been a hardware store owned by an uncle of mine in the distant past, on the opposite side from the house. The yard had a number of trees including a big maple in the middle between the house and the old hardware store building. Every summer the yard served as a home for a family of screech owls. We would hear them often, sometimes before we went to bed, sometimes after as we lay in our beds with windows open in that pre-air conditioning era, sometimes when we slept out in the yard with our friends, which we did often in the summer. The eerie calls were truly fascinating to me–a boy with an already-active imagination. The owls could be seen often in the evenings even before they began their calling in the “downtown” of Henderson where my grandparents’ house was located. Sometimes a grouping would alight on the rock in the town square commemorating the blockhouse that had been erected by early settlers in anticipation of hostilities during the Blackhawk War. Other times a family would appear on a branch of the old maple lined up in descending order of height on the limb as my grandparents ate their evening meal. The screech owl will always hold a special place in my heart because of these memories.

Eric Miller’s Grandparent’s House

A few notes on Eastern Screech Owls. They can be hard to find. Breeding Bird Atlas Data from the two times we did this, strongly suggests that these small owls are declining.

BBA 1 – 1985-1990   10.1% blocks were confirmed or probable

BBA 2 – 2008 – 2012   4.2% blocks were confirmed or probable


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