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Saw-Whet Owl Notecard



Saw-Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

The Saw-Whet Owl is widely distributed throughout the northern parts of our continent. It resides in coniferous woodlands and is the smallest of the eastern owls, being only slightly larger than a sparrow. This well camouflaged, brown and buff bird is seldom seen as it spends the daylight hours roosting in dense foliage. If discovered it is easily approached and may act quite tame. Saw-Whet Owls nest in tree hollows or old nest holes of flickers or hairy woodpeckers.

This owl has a diverse repertoire of calls, the most common being a mellow whistled note with a bell-like quality repeated in succession. The Saw-Whet’s name is derived from another is its calls?a rasping note which somewhat resembles the sharpening of a saw on an old-fashioned whetstone.

Almost entirely nocturnal, this diminutive owl is surprisingly fierce for its size. The soft, fringed feathers of this and other owls are unique in structure and allow silent flight?an adaptation which aids the capture of unsuspecting prey. These birds dine chiefly on mice and insects, and eat twice their body weight each night. Like other owls, Saw-Whets usually swallow their prey whole or in large chunks, subsequently regurgitating a felt-like pellet of bones and other hard parts of prey, usually wrapped in fur.

The winter migration of the Saw-Whet Owl is dependent on weather conditions. During winters of food scarcity they may fly well to the south of their breeding grounds; in mild winters they may not migrate at all.

artwork and text by Steve Sierigk (c) 1998