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GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

Species Code: AEAC

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Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only.
© NatureMapping Program

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Predicted breeding range

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat


Northern saw-whet owl photo

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Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

NatureMapping observations map   Map with Breeding 
Bird Atlas records
Observations | Historic Gap points

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)


This species is uncommon to fairly common in forests at low and moderate elevations throughout the state. They are found in all forest types. They are also found nesting locally in riparian vegetation along the upper rim of the Columbia Basin, and foraging in nearby sagebrush habitats. It is rare in very high forest zones, such as the Sub-alpine Fir, Whitebark Pine, and Alpine/Parkland zones. This species requires cavities for nesting.

Good habitat in the core areas of use included all forests in all forested zones below the Sub-alpine Fir zone and forested habitat in steppe zones at the perimeter of the Basin. Forests in the Sub-alpine Fir, Mountain Hemlock, and Alpine/Parkland zones were peripheral areas of use.

Washington breeders represent the widespread subspecies A. a. acadicus. Contrary to some reports, the Northern Saw-whet Owl breeds readily in a variety of forest types. It occurs in virtually every forested zone below the Sub-alpine zone throughout the state, and is found in both coniferous and hardwood woodlands. At high elevations where it is absent, it is replaced by the Boreal Owl. Researchers reported a nest in riparian growth near Dayton in Columbia County on March 26, 1948. Northern Saw-whet Owls are reported to be common breeders throughout the Blue Mountains. As for many owls, they are undoubtedly more common than indicated by the sparse BBA data because of low detection frequency. This owl is most vocal in late winter, when much of its range is inaccessible because of snow cover.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester