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Northern saw-whet owl day enjoys feast at PROWLS

Northern saw-whet owl

TINY BUT TOUGH: Three hours after crashing into a residential window then flying off, this northern saw-whet owl returned to the same house and flew hard against the patio doors. This time it was knocked out.

The Cranberry neighbourhood resident in the house was very concerned and phoned Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society. We arrived to find it covered in a towel and a box.

Even though small in size (18 centimetres), upon recovery it acted big and ferocious. On the second day of recovery it ate two mice and was even more feisty. On the third day it was very eager to escape.

The owl was released where it was picked up, this time pointed away from the house. Normally nocturnal, saw-whet owls locate prey by hearing more than sight. Mice make up most of their diet, particularly deer mice, which they make last a few meals by dividing them into pieces and caching them on branches.

The saw-whet owl often roosts in evergreen trees near the trunk, usually just above eye level. Their perch can be noticed by a splash of whitewash down the tree and the resulting pile of pellets beneath. They nest deep in forests, often in excavated holes in dead snags.

These tiny owls are strong flyers, too, and can cross large bodies of water during their migrations. It was a privilege to watch this one fly away.