(Northern Saw-whet Owl)
7-8 1/2" (18-21 cm). Small, tame owl. Lacks ear tufts on its flat- topped head and has a short tail. Brown above, lightly streaked with white on the forehead and crown, large white spots on wings; white below with blotchy reddish-brown streakings. Face whitish with yellow eyes and dark bill. Immatures are chocolate brown with broad white eyebrows that form a "V" over the bill.
Similar Species- Boreal Owl, Screech-owls, Pygmy-owls, Flammulated Owl
A mellow series of low, whistled notes on one pitch; often unevenly spaced and repeated mechanically up to 130 times per minute: took took took took took took etc.
Breeds from southern Alaska, east across portions of Canada to New Brunswick, and south to southern California, southern Arizona, southern Mexico, western Texas, Missouri, southern Minnesota, and Maryland. Also breeds in Great Smoky Mountains. Winters generally throughout breeding range (some southward withdrawal), and irregularly or casually south to southern United States.
Eats mainly small mammals (e.g., deer mice, voles, and shrews), and sometimes birds and insects. In Idaho, eats higher proportion of very small mammals (2-15 g).
Nests in natural or abandoned cavity in tree. Throughout range, often roosts in dense evergreens in winter. Hunts at night. Apparently obtains prey mainly by pouncing from above, after short flight from elevated perch. In Idaho, defends exclusive territories. Limited data on breeding density suggest maximum of few pairs/km2.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
Marks, J.S., J.H. Doremus, and R.J. Cannings. 1989. Polygyny in the Northern Saw- whet Owl. Auk 106:732-734.