Sunday, 19 December 2010

Northern saw-whet owl

Aegolius acadius

Photo by Ian Maton (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

This North American species breeds from southern Alaska in the north, down along the Pacific coast, throughout southern Canada and the northern states of the United States and in the western half of the United States down to northern Mexico. The northern populations winter in the eastern half of the United States down to Florida, and in Mexico.

This small owl is 18-21 cm long and has a wingspan of 42-48 cm. They weigh 75-110 g.

They inhabit both coniferous and deciduous forests, with thickets of second-growth or scrubs. They mostly breed in forests where woodpeckers create cavities for nest sites. The nesting sites are usually in swampy or wet, rather than dry areas, and riparian habitats are also used.

These nocturnal predators mostly hunt small mammals, including mice, shrews, voles, squirrels, moles, bats and flying squirrels. Small birds are sometimes taken, including swallows, sparrows, chickadees and kinglets. Frogs, insects and crustaceans may also be taken in some parts of their range.

The northern saw-whet owl breeds in March-July. They usually nest in natural tree cavities or woodpecker holes, but can also use nest boxes. Nests are often in dead trees at heights of 4-6 m. The female lays 3-7 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 21-28 days, while being fed by the male. The chicks fledge 4-5 weeks after hatching and may continue to be fed by the parents for several weeks after leaving the nest.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a population of 2 million and a very large breeding range, this species is not threatened at present.

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