Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Student of the Hogwarts Summer Correspondence School Adopts an Owl!


 Sophie P, a student from the Hogwarts Summer Correspondence School (HSCS) has adopted an owl! After successfully completing exams about owls, and in particular our research with Saw-whets,  Sophie was awarded with a Saw-whet Owl Adoption.  

Sophie P. using her quill pen to
complete a homework assignment
Sophie recently received her adoption certificate and became a guardian of this after hatch year female owl originally banded in 2006.    Thank you for your support Sophie and good luck with your studies!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Star Parties and Spring Sampling

Based on our random banding efforts, spring migration is variable and unpredictable as to timing and location of owls moving out of the area. Knowing that we might not detect owls is not much of an incentive to get out there!  But when there are curious people and a possibility of meeting an owl, it's a good excuse to give it a try.  This night my friend's niece, nephew and sister visiting from Texas wanted to see a saw-whet. They had supported our adopt-an-owl program, how could I say no? We set up at the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve station on March 14, 2013. Our 1.5 hours of effort produced no saw-whets, not even a toot. But, as fortune would have it, we captured a Western Screech Owl, potentially the mate of the screech owl we captured at the 2013 snow goose festival event.

The family meeting their first Western Screech Owl, just before release.
Note the excitement and smiles the little owl elicits! Photo by Carolyn Short.
Our next spring sampling event occurred during CSU Chico Reserve's spring naturalist outing "Owls and Astronomy" field trip with star-man David Samuels. We met David on March 16 2013,at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve. He was equipped with 3 large scopes set up in the meadow near our OWL3 station. David educated and entertained us with his amazing knowledge of  planets, stars, nebulas, galaxies  constellations and other heavenly bodies. 

David Samuels weaving the myth surrounding the constellation Ursa Major
My favorite scope view was the Orion Nebula. In David's scope it did not have the color like the web picture below, but it was ethereal and lovely, clouds, space and stars. For star-gazing it was a wonderful evening!

Wikipedia photo of the Orion Nebula seen in the belt of the constellation Orion
Although no saw-whets were detected or captured, the combo trip was an ingenious way to introduce participants to night-time phenomena. The owl team gleaned more data for our spring migration sampling; no detections could mean owls have already moved on from their wintering grounds to their breeding grounds.