It took some searching, but we found him. Or her. Until today, all I'd seen of these little guys was still photos- but oh-my-stars-and-garters, in motion, they are darling!
Behold, the Boreal Owl! (A.K.A. Tengmalm's Owl, Pearl Owl, Sparrow Owl....)
Don't you just want to fluff its little head and go "Widgy-widgy-widgy!" I love kittens and baby otters and stuff, but these little guys...they're just excruciatingly cute. I'm not a big fan of Cute, BTW- never have been. But something about boreal owls, bathing facedown in the snow...it tugs the ol' heart strings. What do you call an itty-bitty owl, trying to make snow angels and wash its face at the same time? Cute. I'm a goner.
We've been hearing this little guy since late November, or thereabouts.You can hear their calls here. You can also read up some more on their history and distribution, plus hear more of their calls here. It's like a flute, laughing! It's darling. There's just no other word for 'em. Cute. Just plain ol' cute.
If anyone knows how to replicate their call, please let me know. I'd like to lure our neighborhood Boreal to the trees around the yard, so that we can maybe show it to the kids, one night. Our family participates in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Celebrate Urban Birds program, reporting what birds we see at our feeders and around the yard- I also sometimes report unusual ones from the Yard at work (like the pair of little falcons that were hanging around last year- I think they were after the little rabbits and quail that sometimes hide in and around the machinery). It's fun, it's free, and it helps ornithologists to track what bird populations are doing in urban and suburban settings- who's thriving, and which species need help. It would be a treat to be able to report that we've seen our owl!
If you've got kids (or just like birds), consider signing up with Celebrate Urban Birds, or checking out their Bird Cams- they have cameras set up at several species' nests, and you can watch hawks, herons, and several other species as they lay eggs, hatch their chicks, and raise their babies- as spring progresses, there'll be more cams starting up. It's addictive, in a good way!
Speaking of birds, there'll be a recipe coming your way PDQ- it's a fowl, fowl plot, I tells ya. (Sorry, couldn't help it!) Check back for some easy cookin'!