After eating his fair share, he flew up to a branch near the nest box. "Mom" quickly joined him, seized the prey, and shot back into the box... a clear indication we have youngsters in there. For the past week, "mom" has been spending much time balancing in the mouth of the box or on branches nearby. Undoubtedly because the growing chicks are forcing her out.
Apparently, teen-aged owlets not only make a mess (note the crud on the feet) but they keep a mother owl from sleeping giving her a striking resemblance to Popeye! These images were taken on the 23rd when "Mom" spent more time in the mouth of the box than out. Now, she seems to prefer hanging outside on the branches within a reasonable distance and eyeshot of the nest box.
adult Eastern Screech-Owl, digiscoped 24 May 2007, Florida
The references I have suggest that the young owlets take close to a month to fledge. Since I don't have an exact date as to when these youngsters hatched, I'm uncertain how old they may be. They are certainly at least two weeks old, but I suspect they are much older from past experience as a "foster owl parent". If my hunch is right from watching mama owl's behavior, then I should see fuzzy owlets perched in the mouth of the box soon. This will signal the "beginning of the end" of our time with these amusing little owls this season.
The youngsters will quickly move from the mouth of the box to the trees and shrubs on my side lot where we will catch glimpses of the adults coming and going and hear the youngsters begging for food for another week and then it will end for another year.
My son and I built this box at a local bird festival 5 years ago, and hung it over that winter. We were lucky and had a family of owls fledge just months after hanging the box! Since then it has played host to Flying Squirrels, Gray Squirrels, Honey Bees, Virginia Opossum, Pileated Woodpecker, and I've even seen Great Crested Flycatchers going in and out!
For friends in the "Great White North" you can still attract Northern Saw-whet and/or Boreal Owls with this same nest box. Or for the more adventurous here is a whole list of nest boxes & platforms that have worked effectively for a variety of different owl species: