We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I heard one whinny at around 5 AM on Good Friday. It's a treat to hear, and I hope that it means we will have a nesting pair of these pigeon-sized little owls in the area.
Maybe I should put up a Screech Owl nest box, but there are so many trees with holes around here that it's probably not necessary. I have never had to chase them out of any of my Wood Duck boxes, but they are known to occupy them. I had neighbors who had a pair for years using their Wood Duck house on a tiny island in a pond (which seemed reckless of the owls, to me). You could see the owl's face, sometimes, sunning itself in the hole.
It's unusual to see them. Practically speaking, the only way you would know that they are around is by hearing them at night. These owls do not mind suburbia at all, and are probably breeding in all five boroughs of New York City.
These nocturnal birds are not rare everywhere east of the Rockies, and come in Red, Brown, and Grey races. They do not screech; they have a trill and a ghostly whinny. One more of those eery night-time sounds.
Bird Dog, I could've used your savvy out in the woods this hunting season. I was a bit out in the swamp in my stand, and some mornful creature was giving of some sort of shrieky wail kind of a noise every so often. I was putting my money on something with wings up in a tree not too far off, but it still raised a hair or two on my neck. It got dark before I had my kit on the ground, and that thing was holling and fussing pretty good. Like I said, I expect it was an owl of some sort, but whatever it was it was putting the spooky in the woods that evening. We hear owls all of the time, but this thing was having a Yoko Ono kind of night.
About five years ago I found a roadkill screech owl on Central St. in Franklin, NH. I stopped and picked it up. It was late winter and still cold and so it rode around in the car for a couple of days, while I examined it and showed it to friends. It was tiny. All feathers and feet. And the feet were the best part and a surprise as well. The underside was a mottled yellow and pink, and soft, fleshy, like the palm of a hand. Pressing on the center pulled the fingers together and the talons came out. Long, curved, black, needle sharp, and as they came out they closed along the curve, making a four point grapple that wasn't opening except on command.
I used to take care of a pair of these at a local zoo. They were each in a different color phase. I would take these little guys, along with bigger birds, to schools, and nature centers to talk about them with the public. Children love these little owls. They look like something from a Beatrice Potter story. It was all I could do to keep them from being petted. They are often rather tame in captivity. But they don't like to be touched. They would just sit on your hand lightly. Unlike the great horned owl, who held on with a death grip, even thru falconers gloves.
Your ESO info for NYC is not quite correct: we currently can conform that it is breeding in definitely three (Manahttan, Bronx and Staten Island) of the city's five boroughs (2000-2008). In the past (up until 1950 or so), this owl bred in all five boroughs...