The Raptor Center responds to first raptor baby of 2023

A juvenile northern saw-whet owl was found in a duck coop in Edina on March 6.

A juvenile northern saw-whet owl was the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center's first call of the season, which came as a surprise to the raptor rehabilitation center. 

The young saw-whet owl was found on the ground in a duck coop in Edina on March 6. Thankfully, it wasn't injured and it flew up into a tree, the Raptor Center said. 

The Raptor Center in an email on Friday said it usually anticipates the first baby raptor call of the year to involve a great horned owl, as they are typically the earliest nesters in Minnesota. They lay eggs in early to mid-January. 

Northern saw-whet owls typically nest in late March to early April, with their young fledging in May. So not only was it a total surprise for the Raptor Center to get a call about this species of owl, but the young owl had already fledged, so it was at least a month old. 

The Raptor Center estimates the young owl's mom laid her eggs in early January, similar to many great horned owls. 

Over the summer, this little owl's feathers will turn to look more like an adult with brown and white mottled plumage, like the photo below of a northern saw-whet owl the Raptor Center has been caring for. 

Northern Saw-Whet owl (The Raptor Center)

The owl above is a northern saw-whet owl who was found trapped between a chicken coop and chicken fencing in Otter Tail County. It was brought to the Raptor Center to be treated for mild head trauma and monitored for frostbite. It was released on Feb. 9.  

Over the next 4.5 months, The Raptor Center expects to receive more than 150 calls about nestling raptors and about 150 or more calls about young raptors who fledged but found themselves in a predicament, The Raptor Center said in Friday's email. 

If you or anyone you know ever finds a raptor in a similar situation, call the Raptor Center at 612-624-4745 for instructions on how to help.