The northern saw-whet owl is a small owl that is found in coniferous forests in southern Canada, the northern United States and the Rocky Mountain region.Unlike many other species of owls many northern saw-whet owls that breed in the northern portion of their range migrate south into the middle and southern United States. Their scientific name, Aegolius acadicus, comes from the fact that they were first described by John Henry Keen in the 1890 in what was then Acadia, now it is Nova Scotia. The bird above is an education bird at The Raptor Center and her name is Nova.
The northern saw-whet gets its common name from its call which resembles the sound of a saw blade being drawn across a whet stone during sharpening. They are cavity nester and primarily nocturnal. At night they hunt typically searching for deer mice, which seems to be their prey of choice although they also eat other small mammals, birds and insects.They often take most of the day to eat a large mouse, sleeping in between feedings. I had the opportunity to photograph this norther saw-whet in the wild every day for a month late last winter. On several occasions she had a mouse that she had caught during the night and I waited hours for her to wake up, open her eyes, and eat.