- The northern saw-whet owl is distinguished by its smaller size. It measures about 20 centimetres (8 inches) long.
- This owl has darker plumage and a streaked forehead.
- The reddish brown plumage on the upper parts is streaked with white around the face, and is splotched with white on the
- The tail is banded with three bars.
- The breast and abdomen are white with heavy brown streaks.
- The saw-whet inhabits woods of the parkland, foothill and Rocky Mountain natural regions.
- The total range extends south from Alaska to all but the southeast United States.
- Southward movement in winter is casual.
- Prey includes small rodents found on the forest floor.
- The northern saw-whet owl is exclusively nocturnal, active only at night.
- Because this owl is completely nocturnal and hunts and roosts close to the ground, it is very seldom seen.
- During the breeding season, old woodpecker holes are selected for nesting.
- Five to six eggs are an average clutch size.
The northern saw-whet owl is classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:
- Like all birds of prey in Alberta, the northern saw-whet owl is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act.
The northern saw-whet owl can be confused with the boreal owl, but the northern saw-whet owl is smaller and has streaks
instead of spots on the forehead.
Northern Pygmy Owl
The saw-whet owl is larger and lighter in colour than the northern pygmy owl. The northern pygmy owl also lacks the streaks
on the forehead.
Updated: Apr 29, 2010