April 19, 2013 • 11:36 am

Thanks to alert reader Sameer, I became aware of an OwlCam on the Nature Conservancy website. The cam and nest box were set up by one of the NC’s attorneys in Texas, Cathy Howell (more information below).

The residents are two eastern screech owls (Megascops asio) named Hoot and Annie. The pair have reared 21 owlets over the five years they’ve been nesting, and right now there are four eggs, all due to hatch any day. Keep an eye on the live owlcam at the following link, and bookmark it.

Live OwlCam Link

Here’s the clutch of eggs under the female that I photographed a few seconds ago (Thursday evening):

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 9.12.03 PM

Here’s a photo of Hoot and Annie’s brood from last year. Look at those adorable owlets! You’ll see more like these develop at the link.


We work with some of the coolest people here at The Nature Conservancy. Our staff attorney, Cathy Howell, built an “owl box” in her own backyard—complete with a web cam inside! Its resident birds, Eastern screech owls Hoot and Annie, have already produced three eggs this year.

Cathy has worked for the Conservancy for 14 years. While she practices law for a living, in her spare time she enjoys amateur woodworking and exploring the great outdoors.

About five years ago, Cathy read an article about owl boxes that intrigued her so much it inspired her to build one herself. Just a couple of hours after beginning her project, she’d constructed her very own.

The first screech owl visited Cathy’s box only six months after it had been built. Not long after that, Cathy heard a peeping noise coming from inside the box; chicks had hatched inside! Curious about what was going on in there, Cathy installed a camera in 2009.

In the time she’s had the owl box, Cathy has watched Hoot and Annie lay and hatch 21 eggs. She’s also built seven other owl boxes, for her siblings and her mother (she says they make great Christmas gifts!).

The eastern screech owl has a beautiful, haunting call. Listen to it on the Cornell screech owl page by clicking the “typical voice” button under the owl silhouette.

Curiously, there are two “morphs” (distinct types) found in some populations: brown- and gray-colored, respectively.  Here they are:

The two morphs, photo from the Cornell Ornithology website.
The two morphs, photo from the Cornell Ornithology website.

I suspect that the distinctness of the morphs when they co-occur means that a single gene is involved in the color difference.

Finally, screech owls are also shape-shifters.  Here’s one of them (red morph) drawing herself up when, according to the YouTube information, she sees a red-shouldered hawk near her nest. I’m not sure what the significance of this behavior is, but I am sure that at least one reader will tell me.

Please enjoy the OwlCam.

13 thoughts on “OwlCam!

  1. Looks like you don’t need a box for transmogriffoning.

    Would love to hear the significance!

  2. Thanks for the link and photos, Prof. C.
    The owlets are so adorable!

    I wonder who would show up, should you install a box and webcam outside your office window….

  3. I think they shape-change for camouflage, to melt with branches or trunks in their natural surrounding. White-faced owls (Southern Wh-F, Northern W-F) are even more spectacular when shapeshifting and they do it to avoid menaces.

    Desnes Diev

  4. When in their narrow configuration, Screech Owls look just like sticks. They can be impossible to perceive even when they’re in the open.

    I love their melodic trills. (The horrid night-time screeches belong to other species.)

  5. There’s also an owl cam at internationalowlcenter.org. Click on Rusty and Iris cam. These are captive great horned owls that have injuries preventing their return to the wild.

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