One of the cutest members of the owl family is the Northern Saw-Whet Owl…who is the model for Sammi. How did this bird get its unusual name? One story is that in the early 1800’s this little owl’s range included the U.S./Canadian border. This 7 ½” tall curious owl was a visitor to farms and camps. The French were fond of this bird and called it chouette (shoo-ET), which is French for “little owl.” English speakers may have morphed this word into “saw-whet.”
Another story is that the little owl’s call sounds like the scraping noise of a saw being sharpened (whetted). Here’s a link to owlpages.com where you can hear the sound for yourself. What do you think?
The Saw-whet’s bright yellow eyes bordered by white eyebrows add to the sweet look of this owl. The Saw-Whet also has white spots on its head and back. A nocturnal hunter, it feeds primarily on small rodents and little birds.
If you watch birds, you’ve probably noticed that young birds tend to be more easily camouflaged than adults. Saw-whet Owls are among the few exceptions. Here, the adults are brown and blend in well with their environment, while the young have much more striking markings.