By Brendan Lally from Delta, Canada (Sawhet Owl) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Brendan Lally from Delta, Canada (Sawhet Owl) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

Range
Non-resident in Virginia, but winters here in limited numbers. Found from Canada south to New Jersey, continuing in mountains to South Carolina.

Size
Length          7–8 inches
Wingspan     17–19 inches
Weight          2–5 ounces

Habitat
Coniferous forest bordering wetlands, with lush deciduous growth; also mixed stands, swamps and woodlots.

Diet
Woodland rodents such as mice and shrews.

Characteristics
Head looks large in proportion to its body; no ear tufts. Very tame, but small, nocturnal and easily overlooked. Migrates; has a very large increase in migrating numbers (an "irruption") about every 30 years. Nests in cavities in dead stubs, mostly old flicker nests. Call is a mellow whistled note repeated mechanically in endless succession. Common name is derived from call's resemblance to sound of a saw being sharpened.