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Northern Saw-whet Owl Photos

Photography by Terry Sohl

My Favorite: For YEARS I tried finding Northern Saw-whet Owls.  Birders in the Pierre area of South Dakota regularly found them in the cedar trees along the Missouri River, so that's where I would often look.  I never did find one there on my own, although I re-located a few birds other people had found.  The problem...it's a good 3+ hour drive to Pierre, so it's not an area I can efficiently and frequently search!  In the winter of 2014/2015, I decided I was going to find a Northern Saw-whet Owl close to home, no matter how much searching it took.  After several intriguing signs (pellets, "white-wash" below an obvious day-time roost), I finally started to find them in late January of 2014. Over the course of that winter, I found 9 different Northern Saw-whet Owls, most at Newton Hills State Park.    My favorite, however, was an incredibly tame bird I found at Lake Alvin, in Lincoln County (just 20 minutes from home).  I first saw white-wash below a stand of small cedar trees, and when I parted the branches, this is what I found staring back at me!  I was within 6 feet of him, snapping photo after photo. Initially, he stared at me, but by the end, he saw I was no threat, and was even falling back asleep!  My favorite photo of the sequence is this one of him "winking".  Taken on February 21st, 2015 at Lake Alvin, in Lincoln County, South Dakota.

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus 

Northern Saw-whet Owl 1

January 9th, 2005

Billy Goat Jump, near Pierre, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 2

January 9th, 2005

Billy Goat Jump, near Pierre, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 3

January 9th, 2005

Billy Goat Jump, near Pierre, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 4

January 9th, 2005

Billy Goat Jump, near Pierre, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus 

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus 

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus 

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl 5

January 9th, 2005

Billy Goat Jump, near Pierre, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 6

January 9th, 2005

Billy Goat Jump, near Pierre, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 7

January 27th, 2015

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 8

January 27th, 2015

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl 9

January 27th, 2015

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 10

January 27th, 2015

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 11

January 27th, 2015

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 12

February 15th, 2015

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl - Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-whet Owl 13

February 21st\, 2015

Lake Alvin, Lincoln County, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 14

February 21st\, 2015

Lake Alvin, Lincoln County, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 15

February 21st\, 2015

Lake Alvin, Lincoln County, South Dakota

Northern Saw-whet Owl 16

January 27th, 2015

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Click here for the species description page for the Northern Saw-whet Owl.


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