Juvenile Western Screech Owl (Megascops kennicottii) vocalizations
My friend owling friend Rudy called on July 22, 2009 and said a friend of his had begging immature western screech owls in his yard. The area is rural western Nevada County with plenty of houses and barking dogs in among the trees of mixed oak and conifers. We went before dusk and it wasn’t long before the two juveniles started their begging calls. The owls appeared not to mind any of the human activities or noises, from someone playing the vibes, dogs barking, talking, etc. The birds were moving from tree to tree and at times could be seen silhouetted against the sky and were observed moving their heads in all axes, as if on gimbals, trying to figure us out.
In this recording the two owls are silhouetted against the sky about twenty feet away in an oak tree. This is their begging call at 2041 on July 23, 2009.
The next recording was taken at 2050 after the juveniles had moved to a large oak tree about 10 feet away. An adult landed in the tree and gave a short bark, which I missed on the recording. Almost immediately high pitched, excited calls emanated from the tree, followed by begging calls from one owl. We did not observe any food being handed off, but it is possible tha one of the fledgelings got fed, based on just a single bird begging afterward.
The following are two primitive attempts at the typical “bouncing ball” call of adult birds as attempted by one of the juveniles.
Below is a photo by Rudy Darling of one of the western screech owl juveniles in an alert position.
This is a photo of the same bird moments later in stealth mode. Eyes closed and body skinnier and elongated, with “ears” raised, and a much more “barklike” appearance.