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How Big Are Eastern Screech Owls? (Wingspan + Size)

Eastern Screech Owls are a widely distributed North American owl that lives in Canada, the US, and Mexico. These flexible owls sometimes reside in human structures like outhouses, garages, and nesting boxes, making them one of the most likely owls to be spotted.

Here, we’re going to answer how big Eastern Screech owls are, including their wingspan, weight, and size.

Eastern Screech owls are small-to-medium-sized owls that measure around 16 to 25 cm (6.5 to 10 in) with a wingspan of 46 to 61 cm (18 to 24 in). They weigh around 150 g to 194 g (0.37 lb to 0.43 lb). Females are larger than males.

Eastern Screech owls vary in color, size, and weight across their range. Subspecies that live further north tend to be marginally larger than those in the south. M. a. Maxwelliae, from Canada, Montana, and other northerly regions, is larger and heavier than M. a. Mccallii, from Texas and Mexico.

Read on to learn more about the size and weight of this common owl!

Close up of an Eastern Screech Owl hiding between logs

Close up of an Eastern Screech Owl hiding between logs

Eastern Screech Owl wingspan

The Screech Owl typically has a wingspan ranging from 46 to 61 cm (18 to 24 in).

They have a relatively small wingspan compared to other owl species, with short, stubby wings. In addition, their wings are broad and rounded, which helps them fly in near-silence, a trait that allows them to catch unsuspecting prey in the dead of night.

Female Eastern Screech owls have larger wingspans than males, sitting at the top of the range nearer 61 cm. This is typical of owls and birds of prey in general; the female is usually bigger than the male, perhaps to make her more resilient during the breeding season and perhaps to enable her to catch larger or more varied prey than the male.

Eastern Screech Owls have a relatively small wingspan compared to other owl species

Eastern Screech Owls have a relatively small wingspan compared to other owl species

Eastern Screech Owl weight

Eastern Screech owls generally weigh around 150 g to 194 g (0.37 lb to 0.43 lb).

This varies regionally. For example, male owls in Ohio weigh 166 g (0.37 lbs), and females weigh 194 g (0.43 lbs), but in central Texas, they weigh 157 g (0.34 lbs) and 185 g (0.41 lbs), respectively. This is broadly representative of Bergmann's rule, which states that animals further from the equator are generally larger and/or heavier than those in warmer regions.

Although the Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl, it’s reasonably heavy compared to its size, especially in the case of northern subspecies. They’re powerful and stocky, which enables them to catch prey around double their size and weight!

There are five subspecies of Eastern Screech owls:

  • M. a. Asio: Lives in eastern Canada and north-east and southeast USA. One of the larger races.
  • M. a. Maxwelliae: One of the largest races with the longest wingspan. Lives in Montana, Kansas, Saskatchewan and neighboring areas. Also the rarest.
  • M. a. Hasbroucki: A widely distributed subspecies that stretches from Oklahoma and Kansas to Texas. Relatively large.
  • M. a. Mccallii: From Texas and northern Mexico - probably the second smallest subspecies.
  • M. a. Floridanus: The smallest subspecies. Lives on the Gulf Coast. Wingspan is 4 to 6 cm smaller than northern subspecies.
Northern subspecies of Eastern Screech Owls are typically heavier

Northern subspecies of Eastern Screech Owls are typically heavier

How big are Eastern Screech Owls compared to a human?

Eastern Screech Owls are very small in comparison to humans - they’re one of the smallest owls in North America. On average, an adult Eastern Screech ranges from 16 to 25 cm (6.5 to 10 in) in length, about the size of a dove or small pigeon.

In contrast, a human can grow to be 5 to 6 feet tall, which is 7 times larger than the average Eastern Screen owl!

How big of an animal can an Eastern Screech Owl pick up?

The Eastern Screech Owl is a small owl, but they’re powerful hunters that make short work of mice, rats, voles, shrews, and small lizards. They’ve been known to pick up animals as large as a small rabbit or squirrel.

This owl is also known to prey on smaller birds, such as sparrows, robins, and finches. Despite their small size, they’re ferocious and are sometimes called “feathered wildcats”!

Their diets are also extremely varied, including all sorts of insects and arthropods ranging from spiders to centipedes and worms, birds, lizards, soft-shelled tortoises, fish, and crayfish.

Their largest prey, like rats and gamebirds can weigh up to 350 g (0.77 lb), which is twice their own size and body weight!

Eastern Screech Owl hunting at night

Eastern Screech Owl hunting at night

Why are Eastern Screech Owls so small

Eastern Screech owls aren’t big, but they are strong and powerful, which enables them to hunt a wide variety of prey. While these owls are small, they pack powerful claws, a sharp beak, and expert hunting abilities. They’re ferocious and frequently attack prey larger than themselves.

Eastern Screech Owls compared to other bird species

Eastern Screech Owls are smaller than most other birds of prey. They’re a very similar size to the related Western Screech owl, but their range seldom overlaps. Some Western Screech owl subspecies are larger, but the difference is marginal.

The Northern Saw-whet owl is another small North American owl but has distinctive yellow irises and lighter plumage. They’re also smaller than the average Eastern Screech owl.

Overall, Eastern Screech Owls are relatively small birds but have distinctive ear tufts that make them look larger than they actually are. Like other owls, they look stocky and strong, and they’re quite heavy compared to their compact frame.

The owl's thick plumage keeps them warm and acts as camouflage. Owl plumage is very soft, which helps keep the bird near-silent in flight.

Eastern Screech Owl perched high up in a tree

Eastern Screech Owl perched high up in a tree


Is the Screech Owl the smallest owl?

The Screech Owl is not the smallest known owl. The smallest owl is the Elf owl, which is found in the southwestern United States and Mexico.

While an average Eastern Screech Owl weighs 166 g (0.37 lb) to 194 g (0.43 lb), the average Elf Owl weighs only 40 g (0.09 lbs.). The Elf Owl's wingspan is less than 30cm (12 in).

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