Owls of the De Witt Birds of Prey Facility

Eastern Screech Owls can live in a variety of habitats, including cities. They are common in the eastern half of the US and Mexico. There are two main color morphs, Gray Phase and Red Phase but they can have an intermediate phase that has both red and gray coloration. The abundance of different color morphs depends heavily on the habitat where they live with gray phase owls being most common in West Michigan. Screech owls have a variety of vocalizations– most resemble a trilling or screeching sound. Their ear tufts help break up their silhouette, adding to their ability to blend into trees where they nest or perch. They hunt from low perches where they pounce on small rodents and small birds, they also commonly eat insects during the warmer months.

In 2012, the ODC acquired this gray phase Screech Owl. This juvenile owl was likely hit by a car, it is unable to fly well enough to successfully live in the wild.

They typically nest in tree cavities or nest boxes and can fit in tree cavities as small as a tennis ball.

Eastern Screech Owl eye weight is 0.26 oz, which is 4% of their body weight, by contrast, human eyes are 0.08% of our body weight.

The ODC acquired this gray phase Screech Owl in 2017. It was likely hit by a car and is unable to fly well enough to successfully live in the wild.

Barn Owls have a distinctly heart-shaped face and relatively small eyes compared to other owls. They are widespread throughout the world, but endangered in Michigan.  These lanky birds appear white when flying and their legs extend beyond their tail in flight. They are primarily nocturnal and hunt by flying low over fields and meadows. They prefer small mammals such as mice, moles, shrews, rats and voles and will occasionally eat birds. Their vocalization is a shrill scream—they don’t “hoot” at all, they have been nicknamed the “ghost owl” due to their appearance and call.

Barn Owls can fly at speeds of 10-30 mph.

They nest in hollow trees, crevices, or structures like church steeples or barn lofts and make a simple nest of shredded regurgitated pellets.

The ODC acquired this owl as an adult in 2016. This Barn Owl is a European subspecies and a former falconry bird that was raised in captivity. Because she was tame and “imprinted” to humans, she is no longer able to survive in the wild. She does not have any physical injuries.

Barred Owls are primarily nocturnal thought seasonally they may be found hunting and calling during the day. They have a rounded head with dark eyes and a yellow beak and lack any feather tufts on their head. Their face is light gray and chest is streaked with brown bars. Barred owls are a common resident in densely wooded deciduous forests throughout their range. They hunt from a perch for mammals up to the size of small rabbits, or birds up to the size of grouse. They will occasionally wade into water to catch frogs, fish and crayfish.

The ODC acquired this owl as an adult in 2013. This Barred Owl was struck by a car and has partially detached retinas in both eyes and a fractured right wing.

They typically nest in hollow trees near wetlands, adding little or no material. They may also use old squirrel, hawk, or crow nests.

Barred Owls can fly at speeds of 30-40 mph.

Their vocalization is a distinct “hoo hoo ho-ho, hoo hoo ho-hooooaw” reminiscent of the phrase, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”

The ODC acquired this owl as an adult in 2006. This Barred Owl was struck by a car and has a detached retina and a puncture in its right eye, causing permanent blindness.

Great Horned Owls are the most widespread owl in North America, their call is the typical “hoot” owl familiar to many children. They have large ear tufts (“horns”), yellow eyes, and a white chin patch, with gray to brown coloration overall. Great Horned Owls are primarily nocturnal but can be found hunting during daylight hours. During daytime roosting, they are frequently mobbed by crows, blackbirds, and songbirds until they move from an area. They generally hunt for small mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians and fish from a perch in the trees.  Their preferred prey are rabbits and rodents, but they can take prey much heavier or larger than themselves, including skunks.

The ODC acquired this female Great Horned Owl as an adult in 2004. She suffered radial nerve paralysis in her left wing due to a collision with a car. The wing has permanent nerve damage that impairs her strength and ability to fly.

Great Horned Owls can fly at speeds of 20-40 mph.

They typically use abandoned hawk, crow, or squirrel nests, may also use natural tree cavities.