The Saw-whet Owl is the smallest owl commonly found in North America. It is also one of the tamest. Measuring no more than eight inches in length, it is mostly brown with white spots and streaks throughout the body. It has a white face, large yellow eyes, and white underparts streaked with reddish-brown. The head of the Saw-whet Owl is particularly large. Males and females are similar.The Saw-whet Owl is purely nocturnal and nests in tree cavities. It is an unusually tame bird, and allows close approach. According to some, it often allows itself to be handled!



The Saw-whet Owl prefers small rodents, birds, and insects.


The Saw-whet Owl breeds in dense coniferous or mixed woodlands.


The Saw-whet Owl breeds across the boreal forest belt of southern and central Canada, the Rocky Mountain west, Great Lakes states, New England, and parts of the Appalachian Mountains. It winters throughout southern Canada and the United States.


Although the Saw-whet Owl is fairly common, it is strictly nocturnal and its small size make it even less likely to be observed than Great Horned Owls or Screech Owls.