This morning when I walked out to the bird feeder, I noticed a brown mass silhouetted inside. I assumed it was a squirrel, but it seemed a bit early in the morning for them to be there. As I got closer I noticed it was an owl, a Northern Saw-Whet owl (Aegolius acadicus). They are small little owls 7 to 9 inches (15cm to 22cm) tall, that live in dense coniferous or mixed forests. They are not rare, but they are rarely seen.
I didn’t have my camera, so I went back inside the house to get it, hoping that it would still be there when I returned. It was. I took some photos, walked closer, took some more photos, walked even closer. I wondered if it was sick, because it didn’t fly away. I got closer yet, but it just sat there looking at me. I got within arm length of the owl, but it just sat there.
Finally I reached out my hand toward it, and it did fly off into the woods. When I got back into the house I grabbed my bird books to read about Saw-Whet Owls, and it seems that one of their characteristics is that they allow people to get really close and don’t panic. Sometimes they allow people to pick them up.