Invisible screech owl: Can you spot the owl in this picture?

Screech owls are masters (and mistresses) of camouflage. There’s a screech owl in this picture – we swear there is – but he’s very, very hard to spot.

Can you find him?

At the end of the clip we’ll show the screech owl landing, and if you haven’t found him already on the photo, the video will reveal his position. I would love to be able to say “And then you’ll think ‘How could I have missed that?'”, but personally, when I look back at the photo I still struggle to see him.



  1. I’ve had an occupied screech owl box for 3 years. By way of a camera I’ve seen the male roosting in it 8 months of the year. In breeding season he’s gotten what I assume to be a female inside where they preen each other but never any eggs. This year I installed another box less than 100′ away where another owl has moved in. At first I thought this may be a female but now I’m thinking it’s an immature male. Do females ever roost in boxes or do they remain in trees outside of breeding season? Any thoughts are appreciated.

    1. Tom, unfortunately, we don’t know the answer to your question about whether or not female screech owls roost in boxes outside of the breeding season. You are way ahead of us. There was a male (we assume) screech owl here for about 6 or 7 years who used to over-winter with us in a box. We loved watching him (there was a camera in the box). This year, he didn’t return. He never showed any sign of having a mate, but we used to wonder if he was heading off to join a mate and help raise chicks when he left us each spring.

      At the moment, all of our boxes are empty and we are concluding that the ones we use are just not that appealing – we know there are screech owls around because we see them on our cameras every night. Do you use those very narrow and very deep boxes? The screech owls seem to love them. We are thinking of trying them.

      1. Yes, I use the narrow ones that leave about an 8″ square floor for the owls. I no longer mount the camera inside of the box because my observations has led me to think either the camera and/or the infrared light bothers them. This video explains my thinking:
        I’m planning to construct a new taller box with a double ceiling behind one of which I can mount the camera to protect it from the elements. A camera at floor level is nice too. I’ve had a male in the box 3 or 4 years now but no female has ever stuck around long enough to raise a family. I was thinking she didn’t like the neighborhood so I installed another box 80-100′ away. The male I’ve known began using both boxes but I think a juvenile male has just moved into one though not certain.

        1. We will have to try putting up one of the tall, narrow boxes. They seem to be much more successful than our roomier, shorter ones. Perhaps the owls feel safer in them.

          Thanks for sending the video link showing Rufus tearing down the camera – truly interesting. We used to have a camera built into the roof of our screech owl box, but we moved it to the side (not quite at floor level) a while back because we preferred the view. Nicky, the screech owl who over-wintered in the box up until about this time last year, did occasionally seem to be interested in the camera – we assumed he could see his reflection in the glass cover – but he wasn’t ever upset by it.

  2. The female and the President male would often stare at the camera. Eventually I put electrical tape over the light and periodically turn the camera off. Green-Backyard now has a camera with a light that has an on/off/auto setting but even when switched “off” light can be seen when taking a pic with my phone. I’ll have to make my own camera with better IR bulbs.


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