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Backyard Saw-whet Owl

Alex Lamoreaux|

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)

About the Author

Alex Lamoreaux

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Alex Lamoreaux has been an avid birder and naturalist since he was a youngster, growing up exploring the farmland and Appalachian ridges near Hershey, Pennsylvania. He attended Penn State University, studying wildlife biology. Alex has traveled extensively throughout North America, Central America, and South Africa and is a freelance nature tour guide, field biologist, and wildlife photographer. Alex has worked on wildlife research projects ranging from Whimbrel migration along the coast of Virginia to Yellow-billed Cuckoo nesting in the desert southwest. He has been the migration counter at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory for the past two fall seasons, documenting the massive visible migration of raptors and songbirds along Lake Superior. Alex loves to share his knowledge of nature, and strives to bring the birding community together to share in the fun that studying birds and wildlife has to offer. He has helped to organize and coordinate birding events in his home state of Pennsylvania and beyond. Contact Info Alex Lamoreaux aslamoreaux@gmail.com (717) 943-7086