Saturday, March 28, 2009

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

If there was ever a contest for the cutest bird ever, this bird would definitely be in the running! Presque Isle is a stop over for the occasional saw-whet owl in late March and early April. The saw-whet is one of the smallest owls in North America (length 8"; wing span 17" weight 3 oz.) and definitely the smallest owl to migrate through Presque Isle. The saw-whet is reclusive by nature and is strictly nocturnal on breeding grounds making it somewhat difficult to research. There are specialized monitoring operations in the Great Lakes Region which is a major passage for the migrating owls. One such operation is at Allegany State Park where banding is done in the fall. For more information about saw-whets including some wonderful pictures, visit Monarch's Nature Blog and do a search for saw-whet owls.
The owl in the picture above was spotted by Jerry McWilliams on March 26, 2009. Jerry conducts a bird identification class in the spring and occasionally in the fall on PISP. He scouts out the areas on the park that the saw-whets frequent and sounds the e-mail alert for all in his class to meet him at the park at a designated time in hopes the owl will have stayed put. Jerry has seen more saw-whets on the park than most and knows to what trees they tend to return. No one can be sure if the same owl returns to the same tree each year or if it is something special about the tree that attracts the species in general. The most saw-whets Jerry has seen on the park in a season is nine. Wouldn't it be great if this year was a record-breaker!

I took this photo last spring along Fry's Landing

Below is my first attempt with uploading video. Next time I'll use a tripod!


Jennifer Rose said...

the owl looks so angry in the first photos :p neat looking little bird :)

dAwN said...

That is the sweetest looking owl. I love the video..
Hope you get record numbers.

MicheleRF said...

Jennifer-I think he was upset because we interrupted his nap. That's what I look like too when that happens.
dAwN-Thanks and I hope we get record numbers as well. I'm hoping for a long-eared owl too:)

Jeffrey W Tombaugh said...

I love owls...once again very nice pictures...shouldn't he/she be sleeping during the day?

MicheleRF said...

Hi Jeff-
It was around 7:00 p.m when I shot this so he was about to wake up to eat anyway:) Actually, we think he continued on his way north that night as there were no more owl pellets found after that night.


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