photo competition

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Scientific Name:

Aegolius acadicus

Population Status:

Least Concern

Body Length:

7 to 8-1/2 inches


19 inches


2-4 ounces

What makes a raptor a raptor?

Did you know?

  • The asymmetrical ear openings of the Northern Saw-whet and Boreal Owl are easily seen on the skull of these birds. The right ear is higher on the head than the left, and each ear opening is a different shape. Asymmetrical ears augment the nocturnal owl’s exceptional night vision and provide superb directional hearing and a greater ability to detect the exact position of prey.
  • Owls have large eyes to help them see in dim light. Owl skulls show a bony ring around the eye, which gives the eye protection and shape. This ring does not allow the eye to move, so owls have a long neck and the ability to rotate their heads more than 180 degrees from a forward position.
Northern Saw-whet Owls range from coastal Alaska, through southern Canada, the Great Lakes states, New England, and western United States to the central highlands of Mexico.
The population appears to be stable.
These nocturnal owls prey mostly on small rodents but will eat small birds while migrating at night and some insects. They hunt from a low perch at forest edges or clearings.
They nest in natural tree cavities, woodpecker holes, and man-made nest boxes. The female lays 4-7 eggs and the male brings her food while she incubates them for 27-29 days. The young fledge in 4-5 weeks and may be able to reproduce in their first year.

Photo gallery

Photos needed! If you are a photographer and would be willing to donate photos of for use on this site, please contact