They are perhaps nature's most wonderful creatures perched high atop mountains or hidden deep within dense forest: the birds of Canada The celebration of these winged wonders continues with four new Birds of Canada stamps and two exquisitely designed pre-stamped envelopes. This year's issue captures the beauty of four birds: the great crested flycatcher, the Eastern Screech-owl, the gray-crowned rosy-finch and the hairy woodpecker.
Eastern screech-owls (Otus asio) are grey or reddish brown in colour, with small ears and brilliant yellow eyes. One of the 14 species of the family Strigidae found in Canada, the Eastern screech-owl is a small nocturnal bird - a bonafide night owl - found in the southern parts of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and sometimes Saskatchewan. Eastern screech-owls stay in Canada year-round. In the warmer months, they feed on insects, small mammals (such as bats and flying squirrels), small fish, amphibians and reptiles. In the winter, they are limited to a diet of small mammals. In the late winter, the tremulous low whistle of the male Eastern screech-owl resounds through the open woodlands, groves, orchards and city parks where these birds dwell - a mating call to attract female screech-owls. Once a male finds a mate, she chooses a nesting site - an old woodpecker hole, a tree cavity, or perhaps a bird house - and lay three to seven eggs. During the 26 days of incubation, the male brings food to the female. After the babies are hatched, the parents continue to nourish them for several weeks until they leave the family territory.