Saturday, July 6, 2019

Eastern Screech-Owl preys on Four-lined Skink, 7/6/19

As an active naturalist living out in the country I get to see some pretty cool stuff.  This afternoon I was making an afternoon check of butterflies in our Progreso Lakes yard when I noticed a commotion in our big ash tree.  A Golden-fronted Woodpecker had just flushed an Eastern Screech-Owl into view.  I quickly raised my camera as all of my screech-owl shots in our yard are of partially obscurred roosting birds and was surprised to see it with prey.  Closer inspection revealed the prey item to be an adult Four-lined Skink.

Wow.  I have never seen anything like this before.  I moved around the tree to get shots aft different angles.

Not wanting to pressure the owl, I moved to our back porch about fifteen yards away.  After a few minute the Eastern Screech-Owl began to call with the distinct purring trill that is characteristic of our Rio Grande Valley subspecies, mccallii.  Then it flew with the skink across the tree to a leafy area where I lost sight of it.  Then I spotted a second owl.

I left the porch to get a better view and fortunately found both owls together.    Reading the "All About Birds" account I see they eat about anything they can get in their mouth.  I'm guessing this is a pair rather than an adult with a youngster.

So a dull day with not much going on turned out pretty exciting.