Saturday, October 26, 2013

OWL Donations Bring Success!

Incoming!  Our fall population of NSWO was in perfect arrival timing with our first charitable contribution. Julie and Mark, winners of our "Owl Night Out" contribution to raise funding for student research (Candles in the Canyon-BCCER), were joyful about meeting our first two NSWO since opening on October 4. Banders Julie Shaw and Raina and Steve King introduced our project to the group and had a great evening (thanks!), we always enjoy showing people the darling owl that may live right in their backyard- sight unseen.

Candles in the Canyon 2013 Donation Winners - Owl What a Night!
All photos by Steve King.

"Pleased to meet you," owl guest and NSWO
Bling! Julie's glittery nail polish coordinated
with NSWO plumage. Nice Julie! 

We have been wondering when the owls would arrive.  The mild temps may be keeping them up in the mountains where there could still be warm days, snow-less grounds for hunting, and abundant prey or maybe they were just waiting for a charity event!  This brings our owl total up to 4 NSWO and 4 WESO (see earlier post). We have another event tonight - keep your fingers crossed XXXX

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NSWO - Halting to a SCREECH

Our owl of October 2013 is undoubtedly the Western Screech Owl, having so far, captured four of them and only two saw-whets.  Screech Owls are resident birds, breeding on the Reserve and living here year round.
Guest with 5-year old Western Screech Owl
They are likely curious about whooooo has come to their forest and are often incidentally caught in our nets when we are playing the saw-whet calls. We captured our first one last week, and then another 3 in one night! One female was a recapture who was originally banded in October, 2008.  Recaptures relay great stories, such as a birds' age, she being at least 5 years old.  Their memory also must be quite good, taking her a full five years to revisit her experience in the nets! Our grand total so far: 2 NSWO and 4 WESO. Where are the saw-whets?!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Juvenile/hatch year saw-whet. Note dark brown plumage
and buff belly, with few bars and spots.
Photos by Steve King.
Hello young saw-whet! Last night during the kick-off to our 9th season of owl monitoring, we had a nice surprise in our nets; a first year female with about 2/3 of her body covered in juvenal plumage. These are the wispy more unstructured feathers found everywhere but on the tail and wings (flight feathers). The flight feathers were typical of a first year bird (hatch year, HY), all uniform in pattern and age because they grow in at the same time.

Note wispy feathers typical of juvenal plumage
and darker, more uniform coloration.
In comparison and below, this bird has molted into adult type plumage,and right is a webphoto of a newly fledged saw-whet. Our first capture above had a combination of both plumages. Go to this link for a really cute video of nestlings.

Plumage of a typical "adult-type" saw-whet,
lighter with more patterning: spots and bars

Why is this so exciting?  A banding resource (Pyle 1997) describes juvenal plumage from May through September, meaning that most birds in October would have their first basic (adult-type) plumage.  I know that to be true because it is only the second bird in this plumage that I have captured of over 600 owls. And I think it could indicate that we have local and late breeding-perhaps even a second clutch for a local nesting pair. How local? That's hard to say. In our few summer surveys, we have not detected breeders at the BCCER. But attempts have been few and these owls are variable in their nesting locations. Always more questions! Anyway here's the team- we are off to a good start with two owls this first banding night.Thanks team!

The 2013 NSWO banding team with our first owl of the year, from front left to right:
Sheila, Julie, Shannon, me, JoAnna, Nancy, Raina and Tyler.
And of course Steve is behind the camera- thanks Steve!