Jon didn't think it was a saw-whet. We're familiar with them because we had provided bed and breakfast to one some years ago for a few days when his wing was healing. During Beethoven's stay, Jon had left for an overnight of fishing, but the tiny fellow and I had elected to stay home. Although his air of tousled genius and impatience with the mundane had inspired his name, I underestimated the significance of that look, deciding to bring him upstairs with me to spend the night. I had forgotten than owls are nocturnal and, if not particularly bright, certainly persistent. Beethoven made clanging circuits around the cage all night , obviously assuming that his wing just needed some more air under it. By morning, we were both exhausted, although his leg muscles were certainly well exercised. The wing eventually healed and off he went. I was not heartbroken to say goodbye, I'm afraid.
The usual owls around here are much larger -- great-horned -- and they have roosted in our neighbourhood for generations. We knew one captive pair who had been injured but lived at Winding Lane Sanctuary and successfully bred; Delilah was twice the size of Rodney but they seemed happy enough as a couple. Occasionally I get their call correct and manage at dusk to get a wild great-horned to reply. I shouldn't tease them, I know, but it comforts me to know they are out there.
If not a saw-whet, perhaps our recent visitor was a boreal owl. Whoever he was, mice and voles beware! I find their tiny bones in their hunters' coughed-up pellets.