Eastern Screech-Owl
(Megascops asio)


Picture of bird
© John Reaume
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Eastern Screech-Owl is a year-round resident of Canada. It occurs mainly in southern Ontario, with small populations along the southern edges of Manitoba and Quebec. The species also occurs in Saskatchewan and the Maritimes, though in very small numbers (Ritchison et al. 2017). Results from the Christmas Bird Count suggest that the national population has increased relative to 1970. This "suburban" species is well-adapted to both urban and rural settings and favours wooded areas where it nests in tree cavities or nest boxes (Ritchison et al. 2017). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Not at Risk1986 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada5,000 - 50,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late March and early April and ends between mid-July and late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Populations are known to cycle (Ritchison et al. 2017), thus complicating the determination of the species' long-term population status. Cyclical population declines of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and presence of Barred Owls are likely linked with Screech-Owl occupancy declines in winter habitats (Leonard et al. 2015). Predation, low food supply, and unusually cold winters can affect the population (Ritchison et al. 2017). Habitat fragmentation is apparently not detrimental to this species (Ritchison et al. 2017). The species readily adapts to nest boxes.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other