Backyard Saw-whet Owl

Alex LamoreauxFeatured, General News and Info5 Comments

This past Sunday morning, I was in the living room of my apartment when I heard the angry sounds of chickadees and titmice in a spruce near my porch. Soon a few Blue Jays joined in and I knew there had to be some sort of raptor hiding in the tree. I thought it was probably a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned Hawk, but from my porch I couldn’t see the intruder from the angle I had, so thought perhaps the birds had discovered a roosting owl; probably a screech-owl. I walked outside to have a closer look, and as soon as I got up under the tree I could see the rufous and white streaking of a Northern Saw-whet Owl! I couldn’t believe it! Great Horned Owls nest nearby, and I figured screech-owls must be around, but I never thought a saw-whet would venture into the scattered spruces around my busy apartment complex. Right away I texted the SCRBA and emailed the local listserve to get the word out, and within minutes birders were arriving to see the owl for themselves. I set my scope up about 60 ft away from the tree, and throughout the day over 40 people were able to watch the owl peacefully roosting. It was a lifer for many people that stopped by and for some, it was there first wild owl ever! The little guy spent most of the day with its head tucked between it’s shoulders, fast asleep, but would occasionally open its eyes slightly to look around, or to monitor a dog being walked past.

Northern Saw-whet Owl roosting in a spruce behind my apartment in State College, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Northern Saw-whet Owl roosting in a spruce behind my apartment in State College, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Northern Saw-whet Owl roosting in a spruce behind my apartment in State College, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Northern Saw-whet Owl roosting in a spruce behind my apartment in State College, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

  • linda widdop

    How do you get so lucky?! Do you think they are starting to move? We had one in Philly this weekend for the first time all winter

    • I was shocked to find the owl behind my apartment, I never thought that would happen! I saw that there was an owl at John Heinz and was just thinking ‘why can’t we ever find one on roost here in State College?’ and figured it was probably cause there is just too much habitat here, and then this one shows up in my backyard! They are probably moving around a little bit, trying to find good sources of food but honestly I’m not too sure.

  • Mike Blue Mill

    I remember during the 70s & the early 80s spending many hours & a lot of gas chasing after my #1 nemesis bird at the time, a Snowy Owl. Then on Feb. 4th. 1983 I walked out my front door to find one sitting in the middle of my front yard! Sometimes the birds find us.

  • Alissa P.

    Great post and photos. What camera and lens do you use?

  • Jennifer Gumola Klos

    Imagine my surprise at seeing Bird-man pop up in a post from Shaver’s Creek (a place dear to me). Still birding, Alex, good for you!