Northern saw-whet owl

What is the Smallest Owl in North America?

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a very tiny owl native to North America. This species of owl is found primarily in the forests of central and northern United States, especially in Wisconsin.


Northern saw-whet owls is the smallest owl species in North American reaching a height of only 8.6″ inches (22 cm) and weighing between 55-150 grams (1.94-5.30 oz).

The Northern Saw-Whet Owl is a small brown bird with white spotting throughout its plumage, and head with a white facial disk. It has a small hooked beak and yellow eyes.

Similar Species in Appearance

Boreal owls are also found in North America This owl is very similar in appearance to the Northern Saw-whet, but are a bit larger reaching 10.2″ (26 cm) tall. Both birds have small hooked beak and the boreal has a yellow colored beak.

The coloration is very similar to that of the northern saw-whet owl and the difference is really in the pattern of the stripes on the wings.

Another key difference between the boreal owl and the northern saw-whet owl is that the eyes of a boreal are very large. They are not quite as large as those of the saw-whet.

The eyes of the owl also have a little black ring in the middle of the iris and a white feather behind the eye. The boreal owl’s iris bands are black, while the saw-whet owl’s iris bands are gray.


Northern saw-whet owls habitat is an open-wooded area in the woods. They live in conifers or dense thickets, often on the ground, but they can be seen some twenty feet off the ground.

It can be heard screeching, chirping, and even singing during mating season; and it is the best time to spot it because it is mating season, and the female owl is the largest among its kind.

They nest in cavities under the eaves of houses and in trees. They spend most of their time below the ground. In winter, they sleep in hollowed-out logs and in tree stumps. Sometimes they move from one place to another, flying around to look for food.


It can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from tropical forests to open plains in Australia, North America, Africa, and Asia. The breeding distribution is very restricted and only occurs in a few areas in the  United States as well as parts of Canada and sometimes Mexico. This bird is actually not as common as other birds in the area and is rarely seen by humans.


The owl is a nocturnal hunter and is found most often in the evening sky. In order to see one, it is important to look out for them flying over trees or in areas where there are some trees.

If you wish to spot the owl make sure to watch for the following signs; they often fly very low, move through the forest at night and fly low to the ground when feeding. 


If you love the sound of this owl, you may want to take a moment and listen to the sounds it makes. These are a great way to enjoy bird watching or other wildlife activities in your area.

In addition to the beautiful sight of these beautiful birds, they have been known to make a variety of different sounds as well.

One of the more commonly heard sounds is the screeching or tooting whistle sound. This is one that can be heard in all parts of the country, but the north has been a favorite habitat for these creatures.


The Northern Saw-whet owls feed on small animals such as shrews, moles, chipmunks, bats, birds, rabbits, squirrels, mice, and rats. The owl will also feed on fish and other marine wildlife, particularly fish eggs, chicks, and tadpoles.

It will not eat live prey. Instead, the owl will go after dead rodents which are left out to dry in the open. The owl will then try to force these rodents into its beak to digest them, a process known as ‘scavenging’.

As well as feeding on animals, the owl will also forage for other types of food such as nuts, berries, and grasses. In order to consume the food that it needs the owl must have a powerful beak to scrape through these hard objects.


The migration takes place during the summer from early spring up until late summer. The migration path is very long and the Northern Saw-Whet Owl migratory bird is the first one to cross it, in order to travel from the Arctic circle to the southern part of the continent.

As they move, they visit each of their various territories, as well as meeting and mating with members of their own species. They have long been considered to be among the most migratory birds in the world.

During their migration, they spend almost a whole year flying between different areas on their way south. In addition, during the winter months they spend more time south than north, staying close to the Arctic Circle to escape the cold climate of northern countries.

As they travel north and meet other species of birds and animals, they become more visible and more easily seen by people around them.


The northern saw-whet owl is considered to be an endangered species, and according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is threatened by the presence of hunters who regularly hunt it as a target for sport. Hunting of the owlet by humans is illegal in most states, although such violations are rarely reported.

Although it is considered to be endangered, many hunters hunt it, and it is also illegal to kill this owl. Because it is endangered, there is a lot of controversy over its conservation status and management.