On Saturday Angie and I took part in a road trip out Kingston way and were fortunate enough to see our very first Northern Saw-whet Owl in the wild.
We sponsor Luna, the Telus Owl (you may have seen the ads) from the Muskoka Wildlife Centre. And while we have had many visits with Luna, and the last one had her sitting on my head, on my camera lens and on Angie's shoulder... it still doesn't count to us for our life list. We prefer to see one flying wild and free, sitting in a tree. And we need a good 30 seconds or so of viewing a bird, absorbing it into our memory, before we add such bird to the list.
Anyways, we had a good lengthy look at this guy and let's just say Angie got quite emotional about it. They are the most adorable Owl species to be seen in our area. Size comparison would be to a can of Pepsi, only slightly bigger.
I don't know a whole lot about Saw-whet Owls since I've never seen one before until this day.
Here is what I do know, and some other tid-bits I am picking up from allbirds.com.
Much like other Owls, they prefer coniferous trees (trees that don't shed) which include Pines, Cedars and Spruce trees. They might use cavities bored out by Woodpeckers too.
They are incredibly tiny for an Owl, or so I think. And the cutest things I have ever layed eyes upon!
They seem to roost on the lower parts of the trees which keeps them out of view of larger Raptors like Great-horned Owls as an example who unfortunately don't mind have NSWOs for a meal when available.
If you ever come across one of these little Owls, they will sit very still on the tree branch, right up against the trunk. Do not take this for being tame and unafraid. They are actually quite terrified and hope you really aren't seeing them.
Their preferred diet is mice... Deer mice which are a small species. Larger mice that are caught are often eaten in two meals.
So if you ever chance upon seeing one of these beautiful little Owls, please keep a respectable distance from it. And if the Owl starts to make some movement of any kind, you probably have crossed the line and best back away for the safety of the Owl.
There actually is a code of ethics regarding viewing Owls in the wild. It's a special code made for them because of the thrill with people finding Owls and perhaps not realizing the stress they are creating for the Owl. It includes as I said keeping some distance from it, not viewing the Owl for much longer than 30 seconds, flash photography is not acceptable especially on darker days because their eyes are very sensitive, and if you happen to find one at night, no flashlights in their face as you will temporarily blind them... and if frightened they may fly off blindly, injuring themselves by hitting a tree as they flee. And it is important to not share the Owl's location to the world, perhaps to someone you really trust, who also understands the code; because unfortunately far too many people will do what it takes for them to get "that shot" which may harm the Owl and definitely stress them out.
So, here is one photo I got of the Northern Saw-whet Owl. It wasn't easy getting a photo with the dense brush/branches but I am happy with it because it is the very first NSWO I have seen in the wild.
Thanks for looking!