The secretive Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is believed to be much more widespread during fall and winter than previously thought in the southern United States. To see if they occur more frequently in Arkansas, we initiated a banding study in fall of 2014 in northwestern Arkansas. Prior to that, only 12 historic records existed for Arkansas between 1959 and 2010. Over the course of two field seasons, we captured and banded 24 Northern Saw-whet Owls in rural Madison County. All birds were mist-netted along a trail, in woodland composed of pine and cedar with fairly dense undergrowth. Two were captured during our 2014 season when we started in late November and 22 were captured between late October and early December in 2015. We also had at least 10 birds vocalizing at our site. It would appear that the peak of migration in Arkansas is late October through early November, with capture rates dropping off by early December. All but one of the captured birds were females, the most common sex this far south. There was a fairly even distribution of hatch-year, second year, and after-second-year birds and hatch-year birds and adults arrived at about the same time in late October and early November in 2015. Exactly where the owls are migrating from is unknown, although three foreign recoveries in Missouri and four recoveries in Arkansas suggest they are coming from the western Great Lakes region. Once considered a vagrant, based on our research, the Northern Saw-whet Owl appears to be an uncommon fall migrant, at least in the northwestern part of Arkansas. Comparing our data with that for central Missouri, about the same number of birds were captured at the same rates for about the same length of time, suggesting that Northern Saw-whet Owls are probably more common in the Ozarks than previously thought.
Pruitt, M. L. and Smith, K. G.
"History and Fall Migration of Northern Saw-Whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) in Arkansas,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 70
, Article 32.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol70/iss1/32