13 October 2014

Screech-owl Prevalence in East-central Omaha

It has been a fine autumn to hear the calls of the Eastern Screech-owl in several neighborhoods of east-central Omaha. They have been especially prevalent as reported in the greater Dundee area.

During September, the call of the owl was heard during nocturnal hours at several neighborhoods in the area.

In the Carthage neighborhood, on the north side of the Dundee place, there were heard five times throughout the month. It was especially vocal in the early morning hours. In the previous five years, they were heard, but less often, only two or three times during the season.

On Washington Hill, in the vicinity of Harrison school at 53rd and Hamilton Street, they were heard during the week prior to September 20.

At Dundee Place, they were prevalent at two localities, and heard multiple times southeast of Dundee School and near 51st and Burt Street, notably on September 26th.

Near Dundee school during latter summer, two fledglings were readily observed by residents. Adult birds were also seen a time or two, according to available reports, although dates were not recorded.

The only October record available to mid-month was one heard predawn on October 2nd at Washington Hill, Harrison Neighborhood. Thus far, they have not been noted vocalizing at Carthage, though records are known for at least once during four of the past five years.

There are previous autumn records for the vicinity, which contribute to indications of its distribution:

  • 04 Oct 2012: Mercer Woods (40th and Cuming Streets)
  • 01 Nov 2012: picture of one taken in the Memorial Park area and printed in the Nebraska Bird Review
  • 11 Oct 2013: Metcalfe Park (picture taken of a small owl at the roundup southeast of the park at 50th and Happy Hollow Boulevard)

For November, there is on average only one record per year for the area. Additional occurrences can be expected, based upon their having previously been reported.

September's Significance

The basis for an apparent increase in vocalizations of the little owls may be related to ensuring territoriality claims. Perhaps, for example considering this year, once the fledglings departed the habitat used by their parents near Dundee school, they would roam elsewhere to find their own place to dwell. As they moved further from their home territory, they arrived within the domain of other screech owls, which made certain to convey their place by issuing calls within the boundaries.

An increase in calls might be due to the increased attention being given by resident owls to firmly establish their claim to a territory for this winter and the next breeding season. Whatever the rationale, the night calls have definitively indicated the presence of multiple owls in this region of the urban-scape of one area of Omaha.

Thanks to Julie, Jo and Marjie for providing details on owl occurrence.

There were two Eastern Screech-Owls heard the morning of October 25th in the Carthage neighborhood (at 1:45 a.m.) and at the Izard Industrial Zone (near 42nd and Nicholas Streets at 7:20 a.m.).