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A Northern Saw-whet Owl and NOT a Fox Sparrow

Published April 02, 2013
Tags: Life List Happenings, Saw-whet Owl, Song Sparrow, Eastern Phoebe, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Common Redpoll, Cooper's Hawk

A tip was posted about a sighting of a Northern Saw-whet Owl right here in Buffalo, NY.  I decided to get out and follow up on it.  This is a bird I've been wanting to see for such a long time. In the bitter cold wind, my son and I scoured the area for the owl and finally, without any luck, we gave up.  We went down to a creek and, within minutes, saw a couple FOY birds - and one was a lifer for both of us: a FOX SONG SPARROW.  I thought it was a Song Sparrow at first and our nice, prolonged views revealed the grays and heavy striping that I later thought to be a Fox Sparrow - but I was corrected (thank you, Willie!) - and found I had a Song Sparrow.  There was always some brush in the way, so the photos aren't very good - but I think good enough for all to identify the beautiful little sparrow.

We also saw an Eastern Phoebe catching flies along the stone bank of the creek, a Golden-crowned Kinglet, and a Brown Creeper.  That was all within 10 minutes or less!

As we turned to leave the Fox Song Sparrow to its foraging, we saw someone walking towards us. Our fellow birder asked if we were looking for the Northern Saw-whet Owl. Oh yes!  We followed Tom K up the ridge and he quickly lead us right to the same tree we had scanned just a short while ago where we somehow missed the owl! Sure enough, she was sitting right up there - several feet higher than I assumed she'd be. What a beauty! Tom was pretty certain it was a female Saw-whet. We enjoyed looking at her for quite awhile and took several photos. I've read it's not good to use flash with owls, and so I refrained, making the lighting challenging as it was overcast and late in the day.  We got some decent ones, though.

The Cooper's Hawk who occasionally swoops into our feeder areas dropped in today too - as well as a flock of about 30 Common Redpolls.
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Northern Saw-whet Owl
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Northern Saw-whet Owl
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Northern Saw-whet Owl
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Northern Saw-whet Owl
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Song Sparrow (not a FOX Sparrow)
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Song Sparrow (not a FOX Sparrow)
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A few of the 30+ Common Redpolls that came by today
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Cooper's Hawk
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Cooper's Hawk
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Cooper's Hawk