The Charismatic Forester
Northern Saw-whet Owl
With big yellow eyes and “Y” connecting eyebrows is the adorable Northern Saw-whet Owl. Don’t let the cuteness fool you! These soda can-sized owls are very successful predators. They use the perch and pounce technique... sneaking up on and then demolishing their prey. Saw-whets have very unique and precise hearing due to their asymmetrical ear structure, this gives them the ability to hunt for prey exclusively by sound. They primarily prefer woodland mice but will eat other small(ish) mammals and some birds. When food is abundant, these cavity nesters will take a page out of the Northern Shrike’s book (Slaying for Dummies) and eat the heads of its victims and cache the body for later.
The Northern Saw-whet owl is also known as the “Queen Charlotte Owl”. This historical designation hails from it being a subspecies native to the Queen Charlotte Islands and not because they landed a role on Bridgerton. The whistle-tootin’ saw-whet name comes from their call resembling the sound of a saw being sharpened on a whetstone. Sleeping with one eye open, I stumbled across this molted brown munchkin in a Wyoming forest. As I distanced myself, the owlet mocked every head movement that I made. At one point we were both bopping our heads as if enjoying one of our favorite tunes and then we enjoyed a game of peek-a-boo. My favorite collective noun for a group of owls is a “parliament”. 🦉✊🏾#FunkadelicBirds