Skip to content

A whole lot of cuteness in a very tiny owl

Northern Saw-Whet owl spotted at the Meadow
Saw-whet owl by Rosie Drescher
This northern saw-whet owl was spotted by four-year-old Lily Kapoor on a walk through the Meadow on November 9.

Lily Kapoor loves find-it books.

“I have eagle eyes,” the four-year-old islander says unabashedly.

And so she does. On the morning of November 9, she was walking with her mother Rosie Drescher and their family dog through the Meadow. As her mother and dog walked on ahead, she stopped, Lily’s attention was grabbed by something she’d never seen before.

“I thought my eyes were tricking me but they weren’t,” she says. There, perched in a thistle at Lily’s eye level was a tiny northern saw-whet owl.

Having just read Farley Mowat’s book Owls in the Family, Lily was thrilled to spot her own real-life version.

“He was pretty chill,” her mother says of the owl. “He let us get close and then he flew away.”

The owl was only about 10 centimetres tall so at first mother and daughter wondered whether it was a baby.

“For the whole rest of the day I was aching from its cuteness,” Drescher says.

She posted a photo on the Bowen Island & Everything Else Facebook page: “Who’s this tiny cutie? My 4 year old spotted it in the meadow this morning. We all died of cuteness. Pygmy owl? It was only 4” high. Not a baby.”

Members answered the mystery. The tiny visitor was a northern saw-whet which the All About Birds website describes this way: “A tiny owl with a catlike face, oversized head, and bright yellow eyes, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is practically bursting with attitude. Where mice and other small mammals are concerned this fierce, silent owl is anything but cute. One of the most common owls in forests across northern North America (and across the U.S. in winter), saw-whets are highly nocturnal and seldom seen. Their high-pitched too-too-too call is a common evening sound in evergreen mountain forests from January through May.”

And although saw-whets are usually hard to spot, Bowen Island is part of its usual range across much of United States and a broad swath of Canada from west to east.

The post created a lot of excitement among the Facebook members, many of whom went to the Meadow to try to spot it. The Dreschers also returned the next day but the owl was farther away. They haven’t seen it since but Lily will be sure to keep her eyes out for other amazing discoveries.