The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is one of the smallest species of owls, being about the size of a coke can full grown. And it is one that took us 3 years to find. We know of areas they are in, and have heard them calling at night, but their small size and strictly nocturnal behaviour made them elusive and hard for us to find. Their defense mechanism is to stay perfectly still and not move, where s a lot of other birds will fly away when frightened. When we go out to find these birds we try to find that balance of not scaring them or evading their space by using big lenses so we can get close enough through our cameras and not our body. However, sometimes, you run into them by accident. The day we FINALLY saw this little owl, I had crawled into the bushes for a pee break. While my pants were around my ankles, a bird went fluttering inches from my head and landed on a branch a few feet from me. I looked up and made eye contact with my first saw-whet owl. I excitedly tried to get Alan’s attention, without scaring the little owl away (peeing on my feet in the process!). The little owl watched us but stayed on his perch even as a robin tried to chase it away from a nest. Crossing this owl off my bucket list of owls to see was incredible, even if it meant peeing on myself to see it!
- These owls mostly eat small rodents, deer mice being one of their main prey, but will also eat other small birds, including other owls, and insects.
- One of the best ways to find these owls is to look for the commotion songbirds mobbing the little predator.
- They get their name from the sound of one of their calls that sounds like a saw being sharpened on a whetting stone.