Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

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Northern Saw-whet Owl

photo of Saw-whet owl
Aegolius acadicus
Strigidae (typical owls) in the order Strigiformes (owls)

The most nocturnal of our owls, and the smallest, as well. The upperparts are brown with white spots, and the underparts are white with heavy reddish streaks. The head appears large; the eyes are yellow, the bill dark; the forehead is brown with white streaks. There are no tufts on the head. Voice is a monotonous series: "too, too, too . . ." that is usually given on the breeding ground (and thus rarely heard in Missouri), or a rasping squeal like a saw blade being sharpened.

Length: 8 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail); wingspan: 17-18 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Hunts over open country at night. Finds seclusion during day in dense evergreens, among vines or in tree cavities. On the rare occasions it is seen, it is usually perched near the ground in dense cover or in the entrance of a tree cavity.
Insects, shrews, bats and small birds.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Northern half of the state, though casual statewide.
Rare winter resident (in northern Missouri), casual in the rest of the state. Some years they are more numerous than in others, when there has been a food shortage in their usual range that has forced them into our state. In these "invasion" years, they may stay and nest in Missouri, though they are difficult to find.
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