saw-whet owls


A northern saw-whet perches outside the nest at the author’s home in Palmer. Photo by Fredrik Norrsell. At one time people thought northern saw-whet owls were rare. They’re not. They are just tiny—only seven and a half inches tall—and nocturnal, so few people see them. However, in early March, you can often hear the rapid whet-whet-whet of a male saw-whet establishing his territory and trying to attract a mate. These loud, repetitive calls sometimes continue all night. Last spring, my husband, photographer Fredrik Norrsell, and I had the pleasure of having a family of northern saw-whet owls grow up in our backyard. Over the course of sleepless nights from April through June, we watched and photographed these little owls raising their family. On April 1, we were enjoying the sun on the porch when Fredrik noticed a sleepy head sticking out of our nesting box. A female saw-whet owl had…