This is the owl's home turf, as seen from the edge of the bike path. The spot that is circled in red marks the owl cavity about 20 feet up in a Box-elder, and it would be extremely easy to walk right by and never notice. Scores of people do just that every day.
That doesn't mean that they'll be missed by everyone. Tree-gleaners such as chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice often stumble into roosting screech-owls as they go about their business of inspecting tree trunks. When this happens, quite the hue and cry will be made and before long an entire gang of noisy chickadees and other songbirds will form a conspicuous twittering crowd around the hapless owl. Many a birder has discovered a roosting owl with the assistance of mobbing tree-gleaners.
These owls are very common throughout Ohio - easily our most common owl species. They have a strong affinity for streamside habitats, and places such as the site depicted in this post almost always have them. This is in part due to the Box-elder trees, which often form good roosting cavities. It's a great irony that tree species that are typically derided as worthless by loggers, foresters and the lumber industry are often of the greatest value to wildlife.
If you are interested in owls - and who isn't! - mark your calendar for the weekend of February 15-17, 2013. That's when the Ohio Ornithological Society and Greater Mohican Audubon Society will be holding its Owls of North America Symposium at beautiful Mohican State Park. The event is headlined by the incomparable Denver Holt of the Owl Research Institute, and what a speaker he is! In addition to talks, there'll be field trips, owl-banding for Northern Saw-whet Owls, and much more. GO HERE to register.