Aegolius acadicus or Weirdilus Owlus (Gmelin, 1788)
Systema Naturae 1 pt1 p.296
The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is a small owl native to North America.
The scientific description of one of the sub-species of this owl is attributed to the Rev. John Henry Keen who was a missionary in Canada in 1896. Adults are 20 cm long with a 43 cm wingspan. They weigh 2.8oz (80 grams), making them one of the smallest owls in North America. The Northern Saw-whet Owl has a round, light, white face with brown and cream streaks; they also have a dark beak and yellow eyes. They resemble the Short-eared Owl, but much smaller. The underparts are pale with dark shaded areas; the upper parts are brown with white spots. They are quite common, but hard to spot.
The Northern Saw-Whet Owl makes a repeated tooting whistle sound. Some say they sound like a saw being sharpened on a whetstone. They usually make these sounds to find a mate.
Their habitat is coniferous forests, sometimes mixed or deciduous woods, across North America. They live in tree cavities and old nests made by other small raptors. Some are permanent residents, while others may migrate south in winter or move down from higher elevations.
Some have begun to move more southeast in Indiana and neighboring states.
Northern Saw-Whet Owls lay about 5-6 white colored eggs in natural tree cavities or woodpecker holes. The father does the hunting while the mother watches and sits on her eggs.
These birds wait on a high perch at night and swoop down on prey. They mainly eat small organisms such as: small birds, mice, and the occasional chipmunk. On the Pacific coast they may also eat crustaceans and aquatic insects. Like many owls, these birds have excellent hearing and exceptional vision in low light.
In popular culture
Martin from the "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" novel series is a Northern Saw-whet Owl.
The song of the Saw-whet Owl is mentioned in the Grateful Dead song "Unbroken Chain" on their album Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel.
1. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Aegolius acadicus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 24 February 2009.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License