Northern Saw-whet Owl
At an adult length of about 8 inches (20 cm), this tiny elf of an owl is one of the smallest in North America. Some are permanent residents of our area, while others simply move down their mountain slopes to lower elevations during migration.
Named for the sound of their call, which is similar to a saw being sharpened (or "whetted"), these little creatures are masters of camouflage. Not only are they speckled and spotted like the bark of a tree, if threatened they will lengthen their bodies to look like a branch, or flatten themselves to mimic a knotty bump.
As nocturnal creatures, these owls rarely, if ever, fly during the early morning hours when the banding nets are in use; in all of 2010, only a single saw-whet owl was banded at the station. In previous years, however, Carnegie Museum researchers have contributed to Project Owlnet, a network of banding stations who trap saw-whet owls at night during fall migration, in order to better understand population levels and migration habits.