Recently two of our technicians spent the night out in the Squamish Valley looking for Screech-owls as part of an environmental assessment being completed for the Pilchuck IPP (Independent Power Project). Screech-owls are a small, nocturnal, and primarily woodland based grouping of owls. There are at least 21 known species of Screech-owls at present but, the only one native to the west coast is the Western Screech-owl. These owls have a distinct call which is quite different from the common hoot that one may expect from an owl. They are known for their piercing calls which consist of more than four individual calls per second. Have a listen to this MP3 for an idea what it sounds like.
Our team conducted call-back surveys by broadcasting a recorded Screech-owl call through a mega-phone, and then patiently and quietly waited for a response from any Screech-owls in the area. Because of the nocturnal nature of these owls our team had to reset their own body-clocks to start at 8pm and work through the night. It wasn’t until the very end of the survey, in the final minute, that our technicians actually heard an owl. Taking bearings from several different sites they were able to determine an area which the owl was responding from. This survey was just one in a series of many for this area. It will be exciting to watch and see if our technicians get the same response on their next outing.