Tucked a couple branches up on an old conifer in a cemetery, the saw-whet owl stared back at us as intently as we did it this morning. It was a lifer for me.
As owls go, saw-whets aren't much, especially compared to snowy owls or great horned owls. Maybe the size of a good-sized hand, say seven inches long..
Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds suggest that's conifers are the usual winter roosts of a northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus), a woodland owl.
A good North Side friend Jeff Wyse, whom I've known since college, heard a report of it from Berrien Birding Club. (It was originally found by Kirk Schrader.) I was intrigued enough to take a drive with Wyse to find it in a cemetery just across the state line in Michigan.
We found it almost right away, got a good look at it, then left it as undisturbed as possible.
I say it was a lifer, but I'm not really the type to keep lifer lists for anything, including sightings of birds or catching of fish.
Though I can tell you the major fish catches of my life (a 47.5-inch muskie from Kinkaid Lake in 2000 and a 30-pound flathead catfish from the Rock River in 2003), and the most significant bird sighting of my life (the first documented sighting of a snowy owl in Iroquois County on New Year's Eve in 2005.)
And I'll remember seeing this small handful of feathers this morning. It made my Easter. Just as the long-eared owls in the south Loop brightened a nasty winter for a lot of Chicago people.