Cuare is a female Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus).
She came to us in January 2005 from Oaksdale, Washington after sustaining a
wing injury caused by a cat. She had muscle and nerve damage and
cannot extend her right wing. For a while, we were under the assumption
that Cuare was a male because she is so small. However, after a DNA
test, it was discovered that she is, in fact, female. Cuare came to us
as an adult and because of that, we are unsure of her age.
Saw-whet Owls are the 5th smallest owls in North America. The 4
species that are smaller are the Northern Pygmy Owl (Glauciduim gnoma),
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum), Flammulated Owl (Otus
flammeolus) and Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi). The name
of the Northern Saw-whet Owl is derived from the sound of their voice which
resembles "whetting" which is the sharpening of a saw. Saw-whet Owls
have brown plumage and light colored facial disks. They do not have
ear tufts and are very round in appearance. They also have feathering
down to their toes which helps keep them warm in cooler climates.
Juvenile Saw-whet Owls have dark feathering on their wings and head and
orange-colored chests, with the prominent white “v” between their eyes.
They retain this juvenile coloring until they are 1 year old.
The white “v” can be seen on adult Saw-Whet Owls, but is accompanied by a
predominately white facial disk. These little owls are prey for larger
owls, and it is thought that the faint white “v” on the back of their head
may help to fool their enemies. Predators avoid having their prey face
them, and by having a “v” in front and behind them, a Saw-whet Owl may look
like it has eyes on the back and front of its head! The idea is
similar to butterflies that have patterns on their wings which look like
Saw-whet Owls live in coniferous forests and prefer to nest in woodpecker
nesting cavities. They are nocturnal and hunt insects, small rodents
and occasionally bats and birds. They will also catch and kill more
prey than they can eat at once and cache it. Saw-whet Owls can hunt by
sound location only.