Northern Saw-whet Owl

Aegolius acadicus Order: Strigiformes Family: Strigidae (Owls)
Aegolius acadicus Order: Strigiformes Family: Strigidae (Owls)

This adorable owl has been found, seasonally, in at least small numbers, in every state except Hawaii and through central and southern Canada. It’s the tiniest owl found in the Midwest. (Pygmy-owls and the Elf Owl are even tinier!) Saw-whets are very migratory; with hundreds banded each year at many banding stations along the Great Lakes and other migratory pathways. Hawk Ridge in Duluth is famous for banding 600–1500 owls every fall, mostly saw-whets. Some of the saw-whets banded in Duluth have been re-trapped elsewhere at least 7 years later! One that Frank Nicoletti banded here in Duluth, in St. Louis County, Minnesota, in October 2014 was retrapped in St. Louis County, Missouri, in November 2017!

Small owls represent a danger to tiny birds, so the easiest way to find a nearby roosting saw-whet owl is to search when you hear a cluster of angry-sounding chickadees and nuthatches.

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