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Tag Archives: Northern Saw-whet Owl

Yesterday a friend and I ventured out to the dryland wheat country south of here, across the Columbia and River and up on the plateau in search of Snowy Owls. It was a lovely sunny day. We saw quite a few interesting birds including numerous Rough-legged Hawks, a Prairie Falcon, Snow Buntings, American Kestrels and others. The landscape in that area is criss-crossed with a grid of roads every mile. The north/south roads have letter names – A, B, C, etc. And the east/west roads nave number names. That seems easy enough but often roads don’t go through or are not maintained so navigation can be a challenge. And don’t even think about using a phone app to navigate. No doubt, you will be sent down a road that has not been maintained in many years.

We were sticking to the rougher roads, thinking the owls would be off the beaten path but we were not finding them. We turned down a good paved county road and shortly my friend was slapping the door and saying STOP! There it was, maybe 20 meters off the road perched on the side of big rock outcropping. What a view! We were delighted. For my friend it was a lifer – the first time she had ever seen this species.

We watched it for a while and it seemed pretty unconcerned with our presence and when we left, it was still taking in the warm sun. Snowy Owls nest in the far north on the tundra. They eat lemmings and when there is a shortage of food they migrate farther south in the winter. This year there have been a few of them reported around Washington. It’s always such a treat to see these magnificent wild animals.

Following that we returned down to the big river and watched a variety of water birds and then we went to a park where she had seen  Northern Saw-whet Owls recently. We located the white wash on the ground and looking straight up we could see the tiny owl looking down at us.

It was a good day.


This is a male American Kestrel approaching a female on a delicate branch.

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I got out of the valley one day last week to do some birding in areas that really are ready for spring. We were hoping for a few winter specialties like Snowy Owls and Snow Buntings. We did see two very distant Snowy Owls in a field of green winter wheat with the last traces of snow still on it. But we dipped on the buntings. Other highlights included singing Sagebrush Sparrows in the coulee, a first of the season Mountain Bluebird, quite a good number of Rough-legged Hawks, three Golden Eagles and one sleepy Northern Saw-whet Owl. We were mostly in northern Douglas County but found the little owl on its regular roost near Bridgeport State Park in Okanogan County.

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