Migratory, but numbers of migrants fluctuate greatly from year to year. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is the smallest eastern North American Owl with a weight half that of the Eastern Screech Owl, from which it is distinguished by a lack of ear tufts.


Their breeding range includes southern Alaska, southern Canada, most of the United States and some high elevation sites in central Mexico. Fairly common, but shy and difficult to see. Northern Saw-Whet Owls are small and reddish brown with a large, round head, yellow eyes, black beak, and feathered feet. Their eyes are yellow, and their feet and legs are covered in feathers.

Where mice and other small mammals are concerned this fierce, silent owl is anything but cute. Northern saw-whet owls are found only in North America. In human care, saw-whet owls have lived as long as 16 years. In the wild, the longest known lifespan of a northern saw-whet owl was 7 years.

Prefers areas with conifers and thick understory. Northern Saw-Whet Owls live in coniferous forests, wooded riparian areas, swamps

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This owl may be the cutest little bird you never saw in the forest. It usually waits on a low perch and then swoops down to pluck a mouse or vole. The Northern Saw-Whet Owl ranges over much of North America, so your chances are good that one might live near you. Northern saw-whet owls are one of the smallest species of owl in North America, growing just over 20 centimetres tall. The smallest owl in eastern North America, the Northern Saw-whet Owl usually requires a special search to find, typically a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the dark on a late spring evening, often in foggy and dangerous driving conditions.

A tiny owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is practically bursting with attitude. It feeds primarily on small mammals and is strictly nocturnal. No ear tufts. One of the most common owls in forests across northern North America (and across the U.S. in winter), saw-whets are highly nocturnal and seldom seen.

They have a white and brown streaked belly and neck , a reddish-brown body and a grey face.

The Northern Saw-whet Owl hunts at night and finds its prey by sound and sight.

Patterned with brown and white overall, with streaked white forehead and blotchy rusty-brown streaks below. Pint-sized owl of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; found in northern forests and western mountains.

Range & Habitat

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