Sunday, February 26, 2017 Saw-whet Owl!

Seward, Alaska

Just before noon today, I noticed the bird feeder enclosure (to keep out cats) was very quiet and decided to refill one of the sunflower seed feeders while my feathered guests were elsewhere. I climbed over the snow berm, descended down into the enclosure, and proceeded to noisily pour the sunflower seeds into the feeder.

As I finished rehanging it, I happened to glance over at a branch not four feet away. I froze in wonder. A tiny SAW-WHET OWL sat calmly on the branch sleepily watching me. My goodness! I softly said hello, and other pleasantries while I gathered up the lid and container and eased back out, as casual as can be.

Wow!!! I grabbed my camera and quietly returned to take some photos of this beautiful bird. The little owl seemed to be dozing in the sun, oblivious. I figured he must be very hungry to be hanging out by a bird feeder in the daytime. I was glad that no other birds, particularly the Steller’s Jays or even Chickadees had discovered him as they would raise the roof in alarm. I wondered if the usual feeder birds knew he was there and left.  It seemed unusually quiet.

I felt so sorry for him! So hungry and nothing to eat! Rummaging through my freezer, I found some frozen chicken, defrosted it, and cut it into small pieces. I quietly re-entered the enclosure and arranged them on top of one of the bird feeders in a display I hoped looked tempting. He never moved.

I left, hoping he would be there when I returned. Yes! Three and a half hours later, he now sat in the shadows, still looking very sleepy, his head drooping down. The chicken pieces were untouched.

Hmm. Maybe if they moved, he would be more interested. I found an old fishing pole and tied a thread to it. Just as I was about to go get the chicken and go jigging, he suddenly flew to the ground. Sleepy, ha! He was watching! A moment passed then up he flew into the shadows of an adjacent spruce tree with a mouse! Yea!!

I stayed away to give him privacy at this very exciting and crucial time. But first my telephoto managed to get a few shots of him eating, starting with the head first. Mmmmm!  

With all the birdseed scattered on the ground, there’s sure to be more than one mouse attracted to the bonanza. May the little owl enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffet for as long as he wants as an honored guest.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter


  1. Great capture!
    I'm disheartened not to hear about the Anna's ☹️

  2. CAROL,
    What a great encounter with the owl.sleeping away,very sound sleeper. I love.the part about tying the chicken pole. I understand, you have to make it real for them.

  3. Carol,
    Great story. A friend in Chugiak had much the same experience with a Saw Whet hunting under his bird feeders in the winter. On a very cold Anchorage winter day, I once watched a magpie perched on my tray feeder under a big spruce tree. The feeder had 4" legs, so it stood just above the hard packed snow. I was concerned because the magpie stood motionless for the ten minutes that I had been watching it. Sitting on the corner of the feeder, its beak pointed downward, very still. Was it sick? Injured? Hypothermic? Just as I thought through these scenarios, the magpie erupted in a blast of wings and beak, snatching a red backed vole that ventured out from under the tray feeder. It quickly beat the vole against the wooden frame of the feeder until it quit struggling. Then, the magpie settled down for lunch. All was well.