In a recent writing I mentioned the Saw-whet Owl and received a couple of questions about this type of owl. The most remarkable thing about this owl is the noise it makes at night; to hear an audio clip you can go to this website.
The owl was named after the sound it makes when it is afraid. I don’t know if I have heard one when it has been afraid but after listening to it night after night I would have thought it should be named the "Beep Owl." Whenever I hear this owl it makes me think of the noise a truck makes if it has an alarm for backing up, except with a more rapid succession of beeps.
The only time I have seen the Northern Saw-whet Owl is while driving on the Gunflint Trail. I have gotten a very close look at a few of these when they have almost flown into my windshield. I guess I have caught them out road hunting in the dark and when they heard the noise or saw the headlights they were frightened and flew off just in the nick of time.
They are a very small owl and like most owls they are nocturnal. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is only about 6-9" in length and usually weighs less than 4 ounces. Their wingspan is about 20" on average, which is fairly large for such a small owl. I think this is why every time I see one I am taken by surprise by it’s appearance.
The next time you are outside in the evening be sure to keep your eyes and your ears open and you may just hear what I’m talking about.
The photos and more information about the Northern Saw-whet Owl can be found on this website.