Eastern screech owls are one of the smallest owls. Besides their size, they are noted for their large yellow eyes and ear tufts. These ear tufts do not aid in hearing, but are used to make the animal look larger and as camouflage. Red or gray are the two color phases for screech owls depending on what trees are common in the area in hollow trees or nest boxes. They have multiple calls, one a mournful wailing sound, and another, a plaintive, tremulous whistle. Due to their adaptability, they are capable of living in a variety of habitats as long as nesting sites are available. By day, they sit quietly among the branches of a tree and if threatened, they protect themselves by elongating their bodies and extending their ear tufts to blend in. They shut their eyes down to a mere slit and remain perfectly still until the threat has passed. By night, they are hunters, preying on mice, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and other birds. They will hunt the grassy and brushy borders along our highways, which often leads to collisions with cars. Federal laws protect screech owls, like all other birds of prey.
Date of Birth: Unknown
Like so many of the birds at the WNC Nature Center, Junior was injured as an adult so his exact age is unknown. Junior came to the WNC Nature Center in February of 2011 from the May Wildlife Center in Banner Elk, North Carolina. Due to his health and behavior it was estimated he was a young bird. Junior was hit by a car and found along the roadway. Sadly, his accident left him blind in his one eye. Junior is fully flighted, but cannot hunt due to the injury. Therefore, he cannot be released into the wild. Junior serves as an education ambassador for the WNC Nature Center and all wildlife. He lives off display and comes out for programs.
What Makes Junior Unique? Junior is named after the Junior League of Asheville, the community organization that founded the Friends of the WNC Nature Center. He is the only education raptor that is fully flighted.