Northern Saw-whet Owl x3

September 26, 2016


Bill Maynard, a botanist and former high school biology teacher, has worked for various government agencies from Alaska to South Florida and for The American Birding Association. He discovered the 87,000 acre Chico Basin Ranch to be the perfect natural laboratory to study and photograph birds, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects. Chico Basin Ranch Natural History Resources : BIRDING CHECKLIST // BIRDING MAP // DRAGONFLY & DAMSELFLY CHECKLIST //

Prior to Saturday there had been zero Northern Saw-whet Owls banded on the Chico and only two had been seen.  But, on Saturday Laura-Marie caught and banded Chico’s first and then today, Monday, she caught Chico’s second (and two days later a third was caught).  Here volunteer banding assistant, Dr. Anna Joy gets to release the bird before she had to leave to teach anatomy/physiology to a bunch of college students.

Called Saw-whet because one of its calls resembles the sound made by the old method in which large mill saws were filed/sharpened (whetting).  This is the most nocturnal of owls, so while fairly common in the mountains, they are more often heard than seen there. In most of its range, Northern Saw-whets head south for the winter, but in Colorado and other mountainous states, some descend to lower elevations, a down slope migration.  One or two saw-whets are usually encountered out in the plains in isolated trees during our winter.  They are often tame relying on their small size and camouflage and roosting low in dense thickets where they are rarely spotted.  In summer months, North Saw-whets feed mainly on insects but also on the young of rodents.  They are only 6-8 inches tall.  When Chico’s intern, Becca, saw this bird up close she commented…”this is the best day of my life.”