Northern Saw-whet Owl
Length: 7 – 81/2 inches
Wingspan: 17 – 21 inches
Weight: male: 54 – 96 gm., female: 65 – 124 gm.
A tiny, large-headed, tuftless owl. Adult male and female have similar coloration. Upperparts are grayish brown to reddish brown, with bold white spots on wings. Underparts are white, with bright cinnamon streaking. The crown, forehead, and edges of face show narrow white streaks. The eyes are golden-yellow, framed by a puffy reddish-buff facial disk. The bill is dark. The juvenile has a rich mahogany brown face and upperparts, with a broad white V on forehead; it is tawny rust below. This owl may NOT be named, as formerly thought, for its vocalizations, NONE of which really sound like a sharpening, or whetting, of a saw. Instead, its name is thought to have been derived from the Anglicized version of the French word, “chouette” (“souette,” in French Canadian), meaning “small owl.”
NOTE: Interestingly, the Northern Saw-whet’s Central American cousin, the Unspotted Saw-whet, does, in fact, have a call that sounds like the sharpening of a saw.