While there is still a lot that we don't know about Saw Whet migration (especially Spring migration), I think that we do know enough to make an educated guess about your Saw Whet.
Not knowing when Spring Migrations starts and ends for Saw Whet Owls, we would have to allow for the possibility that a Saw Whet in our area during late winter and early spring could be a breeder, a migrant from further south, or a winter resident. However, we do know that Saw Whets express their tooting call (their primary courtship and territorial call) quite a bit during their breeding season and very little outside of it.
Saw Whet Owls in northern New England seem to switch back to their tooting call as their primary vocalization around February 9th. (This is based on my own experience, and not rigorous study.) After May, spontaneous tooting (meaning tooting without someone playing a recording or imitating them) becomes much less frequent. They may still respond to the tooting, especially during the fall migration in October, but they don't seem to do much tooting on their own. I don't think we know enough about their migration to say whether a Saw Whet tooting on February 9th was a winter resident, a migrant, or a local breeder.
However, we do know that egg laying dates for Saw Whets begin in early April (and go into June!). I would guess that your bird, and in fact most Saw Whets that we hear tooting after about March 9th, are more likely to be local breeders than migrating or wintering birds.
On Mar 30, 2012, at 11:02 AM, Barbara Powers wrote:
> The Saw Whet Owl was tooting again last night. Repeating my questions-does anyone know if the owl might be just migrating through or is it possibly going to stay and nest here? It has been in the area since March 12. It definitely is the right habitat for it. Thanks for any input.Barbara PowersManchester Center