Date: 6/28/18 3:45 pm
From: Susan Heath <sheath...>
Subject: [texbirds] Re: Red Phase E. Screech Owl??
There is a paper by D.P. Owen from 1963 which investigates the color morph cline in Eastern Screech-Owls. The summary at the end states that the relative frequency of rufous birds varies geographically in the form of a cline from north to south; about a quarter or less or the northern population is rufous, while in the South (the Gulf coast and Florida excepted) up to three-quarters of the population may be rufous. I remembered this because my ancient ornithology textbook from college has a map of the U.S. with screech-owl morphs mapped out that shows that the rufous morph is more common at the center of the range and becomes less and less prevalent as you get farther from the center of the range. You can read the whole paper here:



From: <texbirds-bounce...> [mailto:<texbirds-bounce...>] On Behalf Of Kleb Woods (Commissioner Pct. 3)
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2018 1:44 PM
To: <texbirds...>
Subject: [texbirds] Re: Red Phase E. Screech Owl??

We have a rufous morph Eastern Screech-Owl that has used the same nest box for the last 3+ years at Kleb Woods Nature Center in Harris County. We saw downy chicks two years but couldn’t tell what color they would end up. However, that doesn’t really speak to how common they are, as that is the only rufous morph Eastern Screech-Owl I have seen.

On a side note (and this is definitely going down a rabbit hole, so feel free to ignore if it doesn’t interest you), I have always used the word “morph” when describing these color variations, but I know many use the term “phase” or “form”. I tried looking into it to see if one was more proper or preferred, but it appears to be more controversial than I thought! Does anybody here have thoughts on this? I always find these kinds of discussions enlightening. Also, while looking into this, I learned a new word: orismology. That is definitely going to be part of my vocabulary now!

Kendra Kocab, Naturalist

Kleb Woods Nature Center


Harris County Precinct 3

Steve Radack Commissioner


From: <texbirds-bounce...> <texbirds-bounce...> On Behalf Of Gary Roberts
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2018 12:13 PM
To: <texbirds...>
Subject: [texbirds] Red Phase E. Screech Owl??

Last night, while watching TV, a large bird flew into the patio glass door. It fell to the patio and I went to see if I could revive it--or keep it for a specimen for someone's lab. When I tried to pick it up, it revived and flew away. It was a Red Phase Eastern Screech Owl!

In all the years of birding, leading tours at Bentsen Rio Grande for ten years and living here in Texas, I had never seen anything but Grey Phase E. Screech Owls.

Is this a rare sighting only for me, or are they common?

Never Before,

S. Gary & "Gene" Roberts

Austin, Texas

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