Northern Saw-whet Owl
Aegolius acadicus

Northern Saw-Whet Owl ©


This bird is only about 7.5” long and looks like a small version of the Boreal Owl. But, unlike the Boreal, Northern Saw-whets have dark bills and streaked foreheads.

Hunting Techniques and Prey:

The Saw-whet is a nocturnal owl, most active just before dawn and at dusk. These owls typically wait for prey from a low perch. They eat mostly voles and shrews, but their diet also includes small birds and insects.


Throughout the breeding season this bird roosts during the daylight in or near its nest (in tree cavities). It will also roost in dense stands of conifers in winter. The Northern Saw-whet is usually found in forested or wooded areas. This rare owl has been recorded nesting only in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska, and is not seen frequently anywhere in the state.


Northern Saw-whet Owl Call (MP3 file 331 kB)
The Saw-whet’s call is similar to that of the Boreal Owl, but it is composed of separate notes, rather than notes that run together. They produce one or two notes per second and the series can last for minutes. This owl also gives a raspy call like the sound of a saw being sharpened, hence the name ”saw-whet”.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl range map
  rare  Rare

Owlmanac Cover This information is from The Alaska Owlmanac: A guide to the identification, habits, and habitat of ten owl species found in Alaska.