Thursday, December 29, 2011


Our banding crew loves to bring visitors to our owl station, particularly children. They are so excited to be out in the night, to walk through the woods with a headlamp and to meet their neighbors of the night- the owls! When we talk about the ecological value of owls, they get it. Here are two of our happy young visitors,

an owl they met,

and examples of thank yous that we receive from very happy kids. I love their excitement about the night, and you can read that we do sometimes provide treats - in this case jelly belly beans which made one guest, Maile, very happy!

I love this drawing of us checking the nets with our headlamps and finding an owl (in blue) in the nets-always a great surprise!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Foreign Recovery - A Montana Girl!

My previous post tells about Lola, a foreign recovery of unknown origin. It turns out after we queried our way through the western states, we found that she was originally banded in the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana (!) by researchers at the Owl Research Institute. Her original band date was September 28, 2011,where she weighed in at 93.0 grams. On November 2, 2011 at our banding site OWL2, she was 91 grams. This two year old lady did some traveling; approximately 600 miles in 35 days. Check out this map of her approximate original banding location to our site.
Wouldn't it be great to know where she stopped in between, and where she was hatched-she could be Canadian! We still are not sure if she was banded during a migration monitoring effort (but likely since it was late September) or for some other research project. More to come - stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

End of Season Results are IN!!!

While we are always excited about beginning our migration monitoring season, we are also excited to complete the season, to see what the population of saw-whets looked like this year and how it compares to others. This season, our 7th year of monitoring, we had another outstanding fall, banding 90 saw-whets! We also had our very first ever foreign recovery. This means that some other banding station banded the bird, and she was recaptured at our station. This picture of our foreign recovery we named Lola, was taken by saw-whet owl researcher Julie Shaw, after we fit her with a radio transmitter to follow her movements. Although this photo makes Lola appear angry, the elongated, slimming posture is also a cryptic behavior (although she might have been a little peeved that she was found during the day on her roost!).
While currently we don't know where she was originally banded, we should early 2012 after all banding data is submitted to the Bird Banding Laboratory.

But back to our usual excitement! During the fall 2011 season we captured and banded 90 owls. An examination of the population is dominated by adults (51, those hatched in 2010 or earlier) with only 39 hatch year birds (those hatched in 2011). This ratio of adult to young birds indicates good survivabilty of adult owls, and perhaps a lower productivity or a lower survival of young birds. Next posting I will compare these numbers to 2010 owls.