About Saw-whet Owls!

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?

Adult Saw-whet Owl
Adult Northern Saw-whet Owl

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.

Three young Saw-whet Owls
3 young Saw-whet Owls

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.

Image of Sammi
Our very own Northern Saw-Whet Owl Sammi!

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