Among eleven different species of owls that are in the Portage la Prairie region, those among the smaller owls include the Eastern Screech Owl. 

Cal Cuthbert has been watching birds for many years, and lives near Delta Beach and shares his knowledge. 

"I'm almost convinced there's not as many of those little guys around as there were, but they are primarily restricted to a riparian corridor habitat, like along riverbanks, where there's bigger trees; trees that would attract woodpeckers that will make cavities. These little owls are primarily cavity nesters. Their habitat is kind of limited. There's a few that are regularly seen in Winnipeg. There was a report not long ago of one in Portage, here. I remember when growing up around here, Eastern Screech Owls weren't particularly a big deal to see. For some reason, I can't see them anymore."

Cal CuthbertC​​​​al Cuthbert

The other smaller owl in the area is the Northern Saw-Whet Owl which nests regularly in Portage Plains along river habitats. 

"They require nesting cavities. So, wherever there are trees big enough to attract woodpeckers, which in turn, build cavities, that's where they go. They respond readily to wood duck nest boxes, or boxes that you put up, particularly in wood lots close to creeks, a waterway, or a small wetland, or something. They seem to like that kind of thicket habitat with taller trees. Chances are, there you'll get them."

Cuthbert says his favourite owl around our parts in the Portage area is the Barred Owl. 

"I have heard them in the Portage Sand Hills and sparingly along the Assiniboine River. They prefer riparian habitats; mature woods along waterways. They prefer to nest in cavities, but they're a bigger owl. They will, on occasion, nest on old snags and so forth, too. And they have a really interesting call. When you have Barred Owls around, they're hard to miss for their unique sound. If you go further south, they have a longer call. Now is the time to be listening for these owls. Incidentally, this brings us to the point that if people want to go out and listen for owls, Great Horned Owls begin in February, but certainly the month of March and well into April, if not most of April, is the time in the calm spring evenings to be out listening for owls."

He notes they can be very vocal. Cuthbert says a great opportunity in early spring is to see how many owl species you can hear.