Smoke Detector Bird?

Lately we’ve been perplexed by a morning sound that we were convinced was a distant smoke detector sounding, or an open refrigerator door warning, or some alarm trying to gain our attention. I was so convinced, in fact, that I’ve gotten out of bed and searched the house for fear that we would wake one of our slumbering guests! (Yes, Galen, I still think of you with every smoke detector I hear). But after hearing the pure, repetitive tones several mornings in a row it became obvious that this sound was coming from outside, and it was actually one of our many morning birds welcoming a new day at the inn, and maybe looking for a mate at the same time.

Recently, two of or guests solved the mystery for us…we think. After hearing my AMAZING whistle imitation of the sound, Diana and Jim Noviello astutely identified the sound as likely being an owl, and then Diana suggested that it may in fact be the Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Click here to hear the Northern Saw-whet Owl’s call

After hearing the audio file of the owl’s call, I was convinced that this was the culprit that has sent me searching the house for dying 9-volt batteries.


Northern Saw-whet Owls have several calls including one that sounds like a saw being sharpened against a whetstone, lending to its name. But the distinctive, pure tone, single pitch “too-too-too” is thought to be its mating call. This call can be heard January through May, primarily in evergreen forest areas. The Northern Saw-whet Owl is one of the most common owls in forests across North America.

Many of our guests at Country Willows Inn enjoy bird watching, and Country Willows is a great place to spot a variety of birds right on our property or on the trails connected to our property. Two of our long time returning guests, Deborah Toobert and John Koenig, recently reported seeing the following birds on our property:

Yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon race)

Black-capped chickadee

Stellars jay

Scrub jay

Red-tailed hawk

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Anna’s hummingbird

Spotted towhee


And below are some photos that Jim Noviello shared with us that he took while visiting the Inn over Easter Weekend. As always, we can’t thank Jim enough for sharing his incredible photos of Country Willows Inn.


We would love to hear about your interesting birding adventures. Feel free to post a message below. Looking forward to seeing you at Country Willows Inn soon!