Saw-whet Owls are a very small owl of conifer forests. They are named for
persistent night-time song during breeding season, which may carry on for hours
at a time. They are often extremely tame, allowing for very close
approaches. This behavior can also make them somewhat difficult to locate,
as they likely won't move or flush upon approach.
Habitat: Prefers coniferous forest
during summer breeding season. May winter in any forested habitat,
although more commonly in conifer groves.
Diet: Mostly small mammals, occasionally small
birds and large insects.
Behavior: Almost completely nocturnal, hunting
only at night. Capable of finding prey both by sight and by sound, they
primarily observe from a perch, swooping down to capture prey as its
Nesting: May and June
Song: Long series of single toots
Migration: Semi-permanent resident in higher
elevations of North America. Some move south and to lower elevations in
Conservation Status: Widespread and fairly common, although
some local declines have been noted, primarily due to habitat loss.
Birdhouses: Will use appropriately sized nest
South Dakota "Hotspot": Birders in the Pierre area
have found significant numbers of Northern Saw-whet Owls overwintering in
cedar/juniper trees near the Missouri River and Lake Oahe near Pierre.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Northern Saw-whet Owl"
-- Northern Saw-whet Owl
Photo Information: January 9th, 2005 - Near Pierre, South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Northern Saw-whet Owl photos.