Monday, November 05, 2012

Mighty Hunters in Small Packages

The is the business end of a tiny Saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus).

The owls themselves tip in at around 90 grams, while a Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) weighs in at 33 to 60 grams.

So, assuming a 90-gram Owl and and 40-gram vole, the human equivalent would be a 180-pound man doing hand-to-hand combat, on a nightly basis, with an 80-pound wolf. 

Of course, in the case of the owl, the "hands" are outrageously over-sized feet, clad in soft feathers, and tipped with extremely sharp and deeply hooked talons.

The owls themselves are not terribly fierce as far as we humans are concerned.  No surprise.  My 200-pounds outweighs a Saw-whet owl by a factor of more than 800 to 1.  

But I have no illusion; if the odds were reduced to as little as 10 to 1, and a Saw-whet owl were given half a chance, they could open me up like a can of tuna.  The saw-whet is a mighty hunter, even if it does come in a small package.

1 comment:

Bob Hilscher said...

Hi there. I live in Toronto, and recently, my wife, Jean, and I came upon an adult Saw-Whet Owl out in the bush. This was the first time as birders that we had ever seen a Saw-Whet Owl. And yes we stood our ground, but given the sharpness of the claws we didn't get to close. Fortunately, we had our camera with us and got some good pictures and video. We have posted them for anyone interested at: