Because of their nocturnal nature, owls can be tricky to locate. But with a bit of detective work, this is one little owl you just might be able to find.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl ranges over much of North America, so your chances are good that one might live near you. Use your observation skills and see if you can track one down. Pay attention to the clues; first listen. Do you hear a repeated, monotonous whistle, especially at night in late winter or spring? Follow your ears to the next clue. Is the sound getting closer?
Now look down, especially at the base of coniferous trees. Saw-whet owls leave lots of evidence beneath their favorite perching trees. All owls regurgitate the undigestable parts of their food, coughing up grayish pellets, filled with fur, feathers, and bones. And, like all animals, owls also deficate, leaving behind a spray of whitewash (otherwise known as bird doo-doo). When you find pellets and whitewash, you’ve hit the jackpot!
Start looking up and see if you can spot a little reddish-brown owl peering back at you. Saw-whet owls are unique in allowing humans to come quite close before flying away. All of your detective work will pay off with the thrill of seeing the tiny Saw-whet Owl up close!
Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.