Monday, February 29, 2016


Such a fortune to have found this Northern Saw-whet Owl roosting in dense vegetation along the Potter's Ravine trail in Oroville in February. Since assisting Julie with her telemetry study, I have gained a good search image and perspective of where to look for these owls wintering here. From my banding study we know that in fall many NSWO migrate through higher elevations and winter in foothill and valley habitats. With telemetry during the day we found them roosting on the ground, in shrubs, and 80' in the canopy of a tree. But almost always surrounded by dense vegetation during the day, which makes them extremely hard for us, and predators, to see. But, if you don't use telemetry there is still another way to find them. Songbirds dislike this formidable owl predator (even though NSWO primarily feed on rodents), and will make a real ruckus, often bringing in all of their friends, a mob of birds-in-the-hood.  It was only a pair of oak titmouse that alerted me, but I was on the search. Look what I found-you might have to click on the pic and zoom in.

In the center of this photo is a saw-whet peering out of the toyon
Here is a zoomed in view of the roosting saw-whet owl. 
What we also know from banding is that the birds begin to migrate to their breeding grounds in March through April.  From there, we don't know where they go, but I suspect they are moving north and/or upslope to the Sierra Nevada/Cascade ranges.
See more about our wintering study on this blog, an example is here:


Our snow goose festival outing was a huge success with two Northern Saw-whet Owls captured in mist-nets. One bird had previously been banded by our team in October 2015 during fall migration, an indication that the bird was wintering on the Reserve property, and had so far survived the hardships of winter. All good news for this individual.
Happy Snow Goose Festival participants gather around
a saw-whet owl.
Our trip is always a quick sellout every year because many people have never seen these beautiful, common but cryptic owls.  Our team this year was me, Steve King, Sheila Frisk and Ken Sobon. Thanks team!