Lief – Northern Saw-whet Owl
Received: April 22, 2014
Lief and Olaf came to World Bird Sanctuary on 4/22/14 from a raptor rehabilitation center in Wisconsin. Lief has a wing injury and cannot fly and has the lighter coloration. Olaf is missing feathers on his left shoulder which effects the ability to catch prey and survive in the wild. Because of their injuries, both are permanent residents and ambassadors for the their species.
Species: Northen Saw-whet Owl
Latin Name: Aegolius acadicus
Description: very small, short-bodied owl; relatively short tail; overly large head has no ear tufts; facial disk has brownish and whitish radials around the edge, which fade to a whitish area around the eyes; a dark area from the base of the bill extends to the bottom inside edge of each eye; rest of the head is brownish to grey-brown densely covered with white streaks, especially on the forehead; eyes are large and bright yellow-orange; bill is black; fluffy plumage is brownish overall, streaked with white underneath and spotted on the back; flight feathers are spotted white; legs and feet are light buff and heavily feathered; toes are lightly feathered; claws are dark horn with blackish tips
Sex: females slightly larger than males, otherwise identical in appearance
Age: 8 years in captivity; high mortality in the wild
Weight: 2.6-3.9 oz.
Habitat: coniferous and deciduous forests with thickets of second-growth or shrubs; breeding habitat usually swampy or wet
Status: not endangered; locally frequent
Range: southeast Alaska to Mexico in the west; from the west coast of southern Canada to the east coast of the northern U.S.; winter range covers most of the Midwestern U.S. from the Rockies to the east coast
Behavior: strictly nocturnal; roost in foliage during the day, usually close to the ground; flight is rapid, woodpecker-like, and undulating; pair bonds are not believed to be permanent; males stake out territory in late March-April; once a female has been attracted, he will fly in circles above her while calling; then he begins a complex series of bobbing and shuffling; he may offer her a mouse; nests are usually in old woodpecker cavities; nesting occurs between March-July; clutch size ranges from 3-7 eggs; female does all the incubation; young fledge at 4-5 weeks and are cared for by parents for some weeks; sexually mature at 9-10 months.
Diet: feed almost entirely on mammals, primarily mice, shrews and voles; other prey may include squirrels, moles, bats, small birds, and occasionally frogs and insects
Vocalization: vocalizes during breeding season only; courtship call is a monotonous, whistled “hoop”, emitted at about 1.5 notes per second; this owlÃƒÂ¢??s name comes from the “skiew” call made when alarmed; when the male flies to the nest with food it gives a rapid staccato burst of toots, and female answers with a soft “swee”
- World Bird Sanctuary participates in Project OWLNET, a nationwide initiative that’s studying the migratory patterns of the Saw-whet Owl. Since 2012, we have banded 60 Saw-whet Owls.
- Saw-whet Owls require a tree cavity in which to nest. They don’t excavate their own cavities; instead, they nest in holes that had previously been drilled out and used by woodpeckers.