Saturday, October 27, 2012


Tonight, October 27th,  we will draw 4 lucky winners to meet the Saw-whet, by day or night.  This is a unique adventure and will make a great gift too! See the details about our outings at the September 2012 Post (this blog).  Tickets are 1 for $3.00 or 2 for $5.00 and can be purchased by emailing with the number of tickets you want.  Then, send your check to: Altacal Audubon Society PO Box 3671 Chico, California 95927-3671, and put OWL RAFFLE in the memo line.  Below is an example of whoooooo you might see, by day- or night!

POM (egranate), one of our radio-marked owls,
 tracked to her daytime roost.  She was very interested in our activities!
J. Shaw Photo
We have added a bunch of new owl photos for adoption, including this cutie below.  Adoption certificates make great gifts and help support our program.  Thank you for your support!
Northern Saw-whet Owl, by night, you could see one!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

KIDS and OWLS (and banding results Oct 15-19)

We love having parents and their kids come to meet the owls. It's our opportunity to excite them about the night and owls, and science and conservation.  On Friday, we had two very engaging children, one a budding writer and the other on his way to becoming an investigative reporter. We had a great time answering all kinds of questions and laughing-and so did they! 
Happy owlers and their very first saw-whet owl (photo by Shari Brogden)
Our captures have been interesting; a boom and then a decline.  Here are the results from our last 4 banding nights:
Oct 15 - 12 NSWO 8 HY/4 AHY
Oct 17 - 10 NSWO 7 HY/3 AHY
Oct 18 - 4 NSWO  1 HY/3 AHY
Oct 19 - 2 NSWO  2 HY
We have a nice ratio of hatch year birds (61%) to adults (39%), indicating good reproductive success (or very net savvy adults!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

12 Owls and 2 Oddities

Our owl numbers are increasing nicely, it is proving to be a great start to our year.  Here are the last two nights of banding results:
October 13: 3 NSWO 1 HY, 2 AHY (2 hours)
October 15: 12 NSWO!!! 8 HY, 4 AHY (4.5 hours)

Catching owls, particularly in the numbers we do, results in those with some abnormalities. Here are two: a crossed bill which could be very detrimental to hunting, and one white talon, which is likely non-threatening in any way, just different. Steve King took this picture, from the left of the owl. You can see the long mandible.
from the right you see the crossed maxilla. The good news is this bird is at least 2 years old, so has learned to live with the challenge of an abnormal beak. Unfortunately beak abnormalities have increased since the 1990's and based on information found on the web about deformities: "in birds can be caused by many different factors, including environmental contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, and bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections"(" Other than our foreign recap from Montana, we have no idea where this bird came from.
Banders  Mike and Raina photographed this bird with one white talon, which is likely non-threatening in any way, just different. Although it does appear to be longer than the black talons.
The more birds we capture, the more we are likely to see some oddities. We always discover something new!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Our saw-whet season officially starts October 15 with our standardized 5 days/week monitoring. But we always like to do a little random sampling to see when the first birds show up.  And we are glad we did!

Trio of Saw-whets! Photo by Steve King
Starting on September 29th, we had a zero owl night, with no owls (of any species) heard. On October 6th banders Mike Fisher, Raina and Steve King and Julie Shaw gave a special outing to Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve guests. Everyone was incredibly pleased with TWO saw-whet owls and a Myotis bat, hooting Great horned owls and a trilling screech owl.

Since then:
October 8: 2 NSWO, 1 Hatch year (HY), 1 After Hatch Year (AHY)
October 11: 6 NSWO, 3 HY and 3 AHY!

It is bound to be a good season for owls!
You can join us too - check out the post below for our awesome owl outing raffle.