The Northern Saw-whet Owl is an small, elusive creature. It clocks in at no more than 4 ounces and is about the size of a robin, but is still a fearsome hunter of small mammals (and occasionally small birds). Nocturnal and secretive, it is rare to spot one in the wild, but ongoing banding and tracking efforts have shown they are far more abundant than they seem.
Wondering about the name? It comes from the sound they make, which early birders like John James Audubon compared to the sound of a saw blade being sharpened (“to whet” is to hone or sharpen a blade).
While many saw-whets overwinter in Massachusetts, a good number also migrate south for the winter, and usually around this time of year and into early November. Keep an eye on cedar trees or dense thickets for owls roosting during the day, and you might just get lucky, but in the meantime, here are five photos of saw-whet owls you can enjoy right now.