Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab & Education
Rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native birds of prey and promoting conservation awareness through interactive educational programs.
6320 Poplar St. Loves Park, IL 61111 RaptorLady@comcast.net 815.633.9193
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Northern Saw-Whet Owl
Body Length: 6.5-8.5 in.
Weight: 2.6-3.9 oz
Wingspan: 18-22 in
Smallest owl in this region.
The Northern Saw-Whet Owl lives in coniferous and deciduous forests. They usually roost foliage close to the gorund during the day and depend on camouflaging to avoid being detected. Breeding habitat is usually swamp or wet. They are migratory with their range spreading from southern Canada, western US, Great Lake and New England states.
These birds wait on a high perch at night and swoop down on prey. They are strictly nocturnal. Their main diet consists of deer mice, shrews and voles. They will also take small squirrels, bats, moles, flying squirrels, house mice, small birds, frogs and insects.
They nest in old woodpecker cavities or natural cavities between March and July. They will also use nest boxes.
The female Northern Saw-whet Owl does all of the incubation and brooding, while the male does the hunting. When the youngest nestling is about 18 days old, the female leaves the nest to roost elsewhere. The male continues bringing food, which the older nestlings may help feed to their younger siblings. Parents care for the young some weeks after they leave the nest.
. Migration in saw-whets has historically been poorly understood, because of their nocturnal, reclusive behavior. In the 1990s researchers began Project Owlnet, a collaboration that now consists of more than 100 owl migration banding sites. Researchers use the too-too-too call to lure owls in to mist nets, and band thousands of saw-whets every fall.
Also known as the saw-filer owl and sparrow owl.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl may have been named for giving a call that sounds like a saw being sharpened on a whetting stone, but there is no consensus as to which of its several calls gave rise to the name