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Northern Saw-whet Owl
(Aegolius acadicus)


Picture of bird
© Chuck Kling

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is the most common owl found across most of southern Canada. Like other owls, it is a difficult species to monitor because of its nocturnal habits. There is insufficient information to determine the status of the population in Canada relative to 1970. For an assessment of the population status of the Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi subspecies found only on the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) in British Columbia, see that account.

See also:

Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi subspecies


Listing of the main designations for the species.
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies / Population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2006Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi subspecies
SARAThreatened2007Northern Saw-whet Owl brooksi subspecies
IUCN (Global)Least concern2009 
Wildspecies (Canada)Secure2010 

Population status

Population status relative to circa 1970
Geographical areaStatusReliability
CanadaData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate


Distribution maps


Migration strategy

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility (based on Canadian % of global population)


Conservation and management

Northern Saw-whet Owls are highly nocturnal predators; their main prey over most of their range is the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus (Rasmussen et al. 2008). They nest in cavities excavated by large woodpeckers (Northern Flickers and Pileated Woodpeckers), but will also readily use appropriate nest boxes (Rasmussen et al. 2008). Local population densities can vary widely from year to year, presumably fluctuating with the density of prey (Marks and Doremus 2000). The Northern Saw-whet Owl prefers older forests and woodlots (Rasmussen et al. 2008), which provide the birds with the nest-sites and openings for foraging that they require. For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird Conservation Plans

Information on this and other species has been compiled by ecoregion through the Bird Conservation planning process. For more details, click Bird Conservation Plans.