From the desk of Lauren Palmer
Along with fuzzy scarves and bright orange pumpkins, many associate autumn with the notoriously shy – yet wise – old owl. Although sometimes difficult to spot due to nocturnal hunting habits, you may have awoken to the segmented call, “Hoo Hoo Hoooo”. This noisy intrusion was likely unappreciated at 2 AM, but exciting to hear nonetheless.
Ornithologists (scientists that study birds) believe there are about 155 different species of owls, 4 of which are native to North Texas: Barred Owls, Eastern Screech Owls, Barn Owls, and even a very few Great Horned Owls. Like all raptors, Owls capture live prey with sharp talons. Unfortunately, their carnivorous diet doesn’t allow us to feed them like typical birds with feeders; however, owls will respond to Owl Boxes!
Birdie Miller, nature advocate and owner of Wild Birds Unlimited McKinney, is thrilled to offer owl boxes specifically for Barred Owls and Eastern Screech Owls in her store located at Hardin Road and Eldorado Parkway in McKinney!
Owls are cavity nesters, meaning they search for small spaces – typically in hollow tree nooks – to build their nests; owl boxes provide such spaces. Each wooden owl box comes with wood chips for the owls to use when making their nest and should be placed 8’-20’ above the ground. Eastern Screech Owls will make their nest in early spring but enjoy the owl box as a roosting perch all year long. “Make sure to put your owl box in a place where you can see their comings and goings,” Birdie advises. “My wish is that there would be a plethora of Eastern Screech Owl boxes all across McKinney for these sweet little creatures. I invite you to visit us at Wild Birds Unlimited and get yours today. The Bird Crew can’t wait to see you!”
Cool Owl Facts:
- Due to the extreme size of their eyes, owls are unable to shift their gaze with the same ease humans can. Instead, the 14 vertebrae in their necks (humans have 7) allow owls to turn their heads 270º enabling them to widen their peripherals.
- A Barn Owl’s hearing is so refined, it can hear a heart beating 20 feet away! This makes them excellent night hunters.
- An Eastern Screech Owl’s favorite food in North Texas is giant cockroaches.
- A group of owls is called a parliament.
- Fossils of owls have been found that are 70-80 million years old.
- Many owls mate for life.
Curious to learn more about owls local to our area? Be sure to visit Wild Birds Unlimited on September 21st from 9-10 AM for the FREE event All About Owls. Two owl experts will be in attendance, along with Birdie’s Bird Crew, ready to answer questions about diet, habitat, breeding, feeding habits, size, and the like. Seating is limited so please call Wild Birds Unlimited to reserve your spot 972.472.2022. Coffee and donuts will be served.
Plus, stay tuned for information about Owl Be Home for Christmas happening in December at Wild Birds Unlimited with The Blackland Prairie Raptor Rehab Center.
At Wild Birds Unlimited, it is always a beautiful day to feed the birds!
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