Publication Date

Fall 2009


College of Arts and Sciences


Biology: Environmental Science

Primary Subject Area

Biology, Zoology


Saw-whet, owl, Virginia, migration, Northern Saw-whet Owl, migration dynamics, Piedmont, Mountain, Coastal Plain


Other Animal Sciences | Zoology


The Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is a small common owl of which little is known. The saw-whet’s migration dynamics are particularly shrouded in mystery due to the secretive nature of this owl. This study examined data obtained by capturing owls with mist nets in order to better understand volume, timing, sex differences and age differences in migration in the Piedmont province of Virginia for 2002-2007. Comparative owl capture data from two other physiographic regions (Mountain and Coastal Plain) were also examined.

Migration flight volume was highest in the Mountain province and lowest in the Coastal Plain, while movements were earliest in the Mountain province and latest in the Coastal Plain. Females dominated samples, suggesting differential migration between sexes and/or the existence of an audio lure bias. Samples were typically dominated by adult owls except for in 2007, a year characterized as an invasion year.