Feature Image By Brendan Lally from Delta, Canada (Sawhet Owl) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

These owls are said to be one of the most common owls in North America, but perhaps the reason you haven’t yet spotted one is due mainly in part to the sheer size of this raptor. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of the smaller species of owls around and like many other owls can be difficult to spot.

Where to Find the Northern Saw-whet Owl

These tiny owls can be found in most forested areas across much of North America. Their year-round range spreads across most of central and southern Canada and northern British Columbia and down through most of the continental United States. If you are looking to spot one, your best bet is to get out in any densely forested area and listen carefully with a keen eye.

If you have a property that borders on some ideal forested areas in this owls breeding range, a good bet would be to set up a nesting box and try your shot at attracting a breeding pair.   You will want to ensure your nesting box is in place well before the breeding season and you should also consider adding a guard to protect their eggs and young from unwanted predators.

 

Identification

Did we say they were small owls? The Northern Saw-whet Owl adult can measure anywhere from 6.5”-8.5” in height and can weigh up to 5oz, solidifying their spot on the list of one of North America’s smallest owls. The head of the owl is somewhat oversized and features stunning yellow eyes, while their plumage is something of a marbled brown colouring complete with white spotting on their large heads.

Vocals

While these owls do sing a series of whistled “toot” notes, it is their call that is sure to help you identify one out in the field. Their calls are very loud considering the size of this bird and are played to the tune of a highly recognizable “too-too-too” call. It is believed that when a male is defending his territory, his call can be heard up to a half of a mile away.