North Richland Hills

Screech Owl Pair Call North Richland Hills Backyard Home

A North Richland Hills neighborhood is keeping a watchful eye on a pair of screech owls and their owlets while learning about wildlife conservation.

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Dawn Cook's tree-canopied backyard in North Richland Hills is home to two screech owls she named Hazel and Henry.

"Hazel, what are you doing mama," Cook said looking up at an owl box perched high in one of her backyard post oak trees. "I'm looking at a live feed right now from inside my owl box, she's just sitting on her babies right now."

Cook has a camera set up inside the box and another outside. When Hazel moves, she can see four owlets that hatched on Easter. "They sound like baby horses," Cook said of their tiny, whiny, chirping.

The screech owl pair came to her backyard almost three years ago.

"Henry is the first one that showed up," Cook said. "They came to us at a time when the world was shutting down in 2020."

People looking for something to do during the pandemic started looking at videos Cook posted from her owl cam on her NextDoor page and TikTok. They include screech owls in a birdbath, eggs hatching and daily feedings.

"To educate them about our wildlife here locally in our suburb," Cook said. "All these animals are here for a reason...don't hurt them. If you can't help them, just don't hurt them."

Cook said the owls are a vital part of her backyard ecosystem.

"They're great for rodent control," Cook said, showing a night video one of her cameras captured of Henry swooping in and snagging a tree rat off a post oak tree. Most of her videos lean toward the cute side of owl life. Like chirping owlets.

"It gives me goosebumps," Cook said. "It's amazing to know this is happening in our backyard."

The Cooks made a new owl box, ready for Hazel and Henry to use next season.

"So many people have smiled because of them," Cook said. "That's all I'm trying to do is just spread a little bit of happiness."

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