March 21, 2011

Northern Saw-whet owl - sawing the night

The night is being poked by a small, almost stage prop sound effect. The sound arrhythmic enough to make it non-mechanical, is a repetitious and almost comical “wo-wo-wo-wo-wo…coming from across the marsh, out of the woods. The sound is almost that of a frog, but with ice still on the water it’s too early for peepers and croakers. The sound is that of an abundant yet elusive New England raptor, the Northern Saw-whet owl. Standing a minute 7-8” tall the Saw-whet owl nests in cavities, hunts at night in dense conifer forests and goes mostly unseen. Spring nights find these owls beginning to court and build nests. Listen for the subtle and strange call of the Saw-whet owl, named after the signing sound a hand saw makes when it is being sharpened.  

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact:

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