Saturday, November 9, 2013


We are up to 18 owls with our last 2 captures occurring on November 7, 2013.  Last night the J. Shaw team captured a lone, but previously banded Western Screech Owl, making our total WESO captures at 7. It seems there are almost as many screech owls as saw-whets this year.  On the 7th, my crew had a male tooting in competition with our boom box for a solid hour before he finally had to go check out the stud in the woods (our boombox), and we captured him. He looks pretty tough- doesn't he?

Male NSWO weighting in at a whopping 74 grams.
When the owls are few and far between during our 30  minute net runs, we have plenty of time to contemplate other things like the nocturnal habits of deer, P. chorus frogs and bats, gazing at shooting stars and constellations, listening for owls, migrating geese and bugs. Bug finding can be entertaining. These Jerusalem Crickets sometimes cross our path.

Jerusalem Cricket
They are about 2 inches long, and have a very shiny, nicely striped and squishy abdomen. Apparently they are quite the percussionists too.  Check out this link to hear them drum with their abdomens.  One never knows what the night will bring!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Last night, during our Owl Night Out donation for the Fight Against Alzheimer's -we had an amazing surprise, a Foreign Recovery of a NSWO.
Fighting to end Alzheimer's -
Our very fun and birding savvy group!
Bander/volunteer Michelle Ocken just before releasing Miss
Iowa!  Michelle's smile shows our group's excitement.
This means we recaptured an owl originally banded elsewhere, only the second time for us since 2005 and over 500 owl banding/captures. Our excitement was high when after looking through our data, we soon discovered she was not one of "our birds."  Her band number did not match any of the band strings. By examining her molt pattern we identified her as a Second Year (SY) female, meaning she was hatched last year in 2012. When I got home I input her band information into the Bird Banding Laboratory - Report a Bird - page and here is what I found this morning in my inbox: 

Banding Location: Hitchcock Nature Center, NR Honey Creek, Pottawatomie County, IOWA!  She was banded Nov. 2012 as a Hatch Year/Female. 
Project Owlnet Map of all NSWO banding stations across 
North America. I  circled our banding station at BCCER in blue 
and the banding station where Miss Iowa was first banded.
What a trip - Literally! While we don't know what her journey looks like, but here is a likely scenario. We know she was banded in Iowa, fall 2012. She likely flew north in the spring and bred somewhere in Canada (?) in 2013. This fall she flew to us.  The mystery lies in the in between route from station to station-and one that will always remain a mystery. 
Google Earth image showing two banding locations and
terrain in between sites

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy OWLOWEEN 2013 - BOO!

One of my most fun owl events is the ever popular and scary OWLOWEEN. This time it was a surprise for our guests - Sacramento Audubon Society (SAS). And this is what it looked like:  Awesome banding crew, 11 participants and 2 NSWO, bringing us up to for the season as of October 26. A very slow year,good thing we know how to have some fun!

Our Owloween group with curious NSWO
We also heard N. Pygmy Owl, Western Screech Owl and Great  Horned owl AND some strange sounds we could not identify. Pair the  wildlife with lots of spooky tricks and treats - a successful night!  

Trick or Treat Table
Delicious ghoulish cupcakes! 
Creepy Grave on the way to the nets

Thank you SAS for your generous donation to help support our owl monitoring project!

Hatch year  Female, NSWO, Photo by Linda Pittman (SAS)