In Ontario, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is most often encountered in evergreens or dense willow scrub near the shores of Lake Ontario or Lake Erie during its fall migration.
We were fortunate to see one and it allowed very close approach.
This is our smallest owl (about the same length as a cowbird).
To “whet” a saw means to sharpen it. The high C pitch, frequently repeated call note of the Saw-whet Owl is similar to the sound of a saw being “wheted.”
This owl is nocturnal and roosts during the day in dense foliage.
At night it hunts for small mammals.
The little Saw-whet was not our only fortunate discovery. By the lake we found a Purple Sandpiper.
The Purple Sandpiper is a circumpolar Arctic breeder.
It winters along North Atlantic coasts.
In the Toronto area, it is usually seen during November days on rocky promontories or piers.
The dark colour, white belly and orange to yellow legs are diagnostic for this species.
We weren’t the only observers:
Our good luck continued with the sighting of a “raft” of about 250 Greater Scaup.
At the beginning of this afternoon’s walk, an unleashed dog chased this cat up a pole:
When the cat finally descended it immediately climbed another pole:
Species list: mute swan, red-necked grebe, horned grebe, Canada goose, mallard, gadwall, American black duck, American wigeon, bufflehead, red-breasted merganser, long-tailed duck, greater scaup, saw-whet owl, purple sandpiper, ring-billed gull, belted kingfisher, blue jay, downy woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, American robin, golden-crowned kinglet, cedar waxwing, white-eyed vireo, house sparrow, northern cardinal, dark-eyed junco, American goldfinch, song sparrow. (28 species)
It is winter in the valley of the vine.
The vineyards crucified on stakes suggest
War cemeteries, but the fruit is pressed,
The redwood vats are brimming in the shed,
And on the sidings stand tank cars of wine,
For which bright juice a billion grapes have bled. – Karl Shapiro
There is a wonderful story in the news recently about Rockefeller the Saw-whet Owl who was rescued from the big Xmas tree on its way to Manhattan to light up downtown NYC. Its on the internet for anyone to read by typing “Rockefeller the viral stowaway”.
Thanks Miles for your pictures and description of this type of owl.
What a day for you and your groups, Miles. And wonderful photography too. 🙂
Wow, what a wonderful thing, to see that beautiful owl, and everything else here (talk about “The Owl and the Pussycat”!)