Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One for the life list!

There are some advantages to not having indoor plumbing yet.

This morning I was outside at 4 AM, and besides the usual rumble of freight trains off in the distance (4 AM seems like the usual time for them), I heard something from nearby in the woods. It sounded like someone blowing the same note on a pennywhistle over and over.

Northern Saw-whet Owl!

I have been hoping to hear one of these little owls here; we are right within their year round range and we have the mixed conifer/hardwood forest that is their preferred habitat. Now if I could only find it and take a look; I've seen photos and they are so cute. Of course, I should probably not use the word "cute" to describe something that could rip my flesh apart with its talons and bill.


Lynne said...

Yay Deb!!!
You know I would do just about anything to see one.

RuthieJ said...

That's so neat Deb! I've never seen or heard a saw whet owl.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

The neat thing, Deb, is that it might not "rip your flesh apart with its talons and bill." We have Saw Whets here in Ohio, and I never go afield but what I don't check cedar and pine trees—right up against the trunk, for a little owl snoozing the day away. Maybe once every year or so I find one. And they are absolutely cute; try as they might, they can't quite manage to look as frightful as a screech owl.

But the best part is that if you move slow and careful, some saw whets will actually allow you to pick them up. You can hold and look at them without getting bit, then set them back in their place, and usually, if you check an hour later, they'll still be right there.

Saw whets typically hang around an area for awhile, providing they find good hunting and safe shelter. I'd say you have a good chance of locating your owl. Try daytime looks in the conifers.

Deb said...

Lynne- I'll let you know if it stays around. We may be able to sneak up on it during the day!

RuthieJ- I'm wondering if I haven't heard them, but thought they were something else. But the call was distinctive. And persistent, like a whipporwill.

Grizzled- Thanks for the tips! I would have gone out looking today, but it's a bit chilly and windy. I'm sure we have plenty of good habitat here, including good nesting cavities.

forest wisdom said...

No, I think you should use the word cute. :) As owls go, the Saw-whet is about as cute as it gets.

I probably shouldn't tell you this since you've not seen one yet but only heard it. I've actually banded a saw-whet (and therefore actually held it in my hand; I can tell you that was a dicey business done very carefully). This was in one of my "former lives" when I was a budding Ornithologist and "competitive birder" (in the small-pond of South Dakota birding). To this day, this "poet's" only actual publication credit is on an ornithological journal. It was an article on a hybrid mating pair of a Clark's and Western Grebe that I and my birding mentor (and actual scientist) tracked through the season and they did have offspring....


Keep on birding! (says the sorry sap who hasn't seriously birded in years now)

Deb said...

Forest Wisdom- You're not by chance an SDSU wildlife alum are you? E-mail me if you are; The Hermit and I have been there! :) And, I'm jealous you have held a Saw-whet. And even more determined to see one!

forest wisdom said...

Nope. Not an SDSU alum. I'm only a lowly Northern State (Aberdeen) alum. :)