This little gem of a warbler was seen Sunday at Sourdough Nature Trail by "The Lonesome Doves" Birdathon team. The Northern Parula has been seen less than 20 times in Montana, so it was quite a surprise! One of North America's smallest wood-warblers, the Northern Parula is more likely to be found in the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada from Manitoba to the Maritime Provinces.
These two juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owls were seen recently south of Bozeman. Saw-whets are secondary-cavity nesters, using previously excavated cavities of the Northern Flicker, but will also use nest boxes. They lay their eggs (3 to 7) directly on whatever debris has been left behind. The female incubates the eggs for 27-29 days. The male provides all the food for the female and young, until the female leaves the nest. The female broods the young until the youngest nestling is 18 days old, then she roosts elsewhere. After the young fledge (leave the nest), they remain together outside the nest, continued to be fed by the male, and sometimes the female as well, for at least one month. Fledglings can fly immediately after leaving the nest, unlike many other owl species, which can only glide and clamber at that stage. Juvenile Saw-whet Owls become independent within 6 to 8 weeks of fledging.
Saw-whets hunt almost entirely at night, from a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise. They hunt from a low perch in forest openings. Their prey, primarily mice and voles, are detected by their excellent hearing and low-light vision. Food not eaten is often stored on branches.
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of our smallest owls, measuring about 8 inches in length and weighing 2.5 to 3 ounces.
The next Madison Valley IBA bird survey will be on Saturday, June 25th. We will meet again at the Ennis Pharmacy café at 7:15 a.m. for those who want to have breakfast and we will head out for the survey at 8:00 am. For more information or to sign up, please contact Paulette Epple, by phone at 406-580-6186 or by email at bigskyepplesATmsn.com