Saturday, October 13, 2018


At CSU Chico Reserve's we have banded almost 900 owls since we first opened the monitoring station in 2005. This is the very first time another station has recaptured one of the banded owls from our site. And look at the traveling this little lady did~ approximately 800 miles straight line distance! Of course that probably was not her flight itinerary, maybe making stops in Oregon and Washington? You can see by the banding certificate and map below sent to the "finder" by the Bird Banding Laboratory that we at the BCCER site captured the bird as a Hatch Year (she was hatched in 2017) during fall migration.

Information and points where this female HY bird
was banded (blue, 2017) and recaptured (yellow, 2018)
Then, this October 2018, Rocky Point Bird Observatory in Canada, netted her again during fall migration. It's been a full year since her original band date. Where has she been?  We can only guess between point A and B but I assume she flew north in the winter/spring 2017 to breed, maybe somewhere in Canada. Then she flew south through the tip of Vancouver Island at the RPBO. Here her information was input into the BBL's "report a band site" by Rebecca and she received the certificate of appreciation showing the owl's information.

The certificate banders receive from the Bird Banding Lab
when they report a banded bird
Foreign Recoveries (a recapture of another stations bird), are much more common where the NSWO banding stations are denser, like back east and Canada. They are valuable to determine timing, direction and distance of migrating owls, and longevity. Check out the map below for active owl stations across the country
Map of active NSWO banding stations (red dots) in 2010


Ken and banders Wyatt and Dawn, plus a great group of veteran and seasoned volunteers will be running the NSWO station at the BCCER again, for the 16th season! We had a training for new assistants to show the banding process, the data we collect, and the value of long term monitoring. Ken and Wyatt conducted their first banding on October 8 and were surprised with an evening of 10 new owls! Eight of the owls were hatched in 2018 (HY) and 2 were second year, SY, hatched in 2017.  It appears that it could be another great year for owl reproduction from this population of owls. If you want to learn about the owls, contact Program Director Ken Sobon,

The owls are curious and often look at you before take off.
Photo by Ken Sobon

Friday, April 20, 2018

NSWO CSI; Murder on the BCCER

Banding an owl tells us many things including age, longevity,  movement, residency and death.  In late February, Jon Aull, Outdoor Education Coordinator at the Reserve contacted us about a saw-whet he had found predated, band number 1104-43252.
Predated Saw-whet Owl at the BCCER
Note the band on the right leg. (Jon Aull photo)
I looked it up in our database and found that this individual was banded on October 28, 2017 during fall migration on the Reserve. We could not sex the bird due to overlapping measures of wing chord and mass (84 grams), but we did age it as a hatch year. So this owl did not survive a full year. If a bird makes it out of the nest, the first year becomes the most vulnerable period in their lives. There are predators, disease, and man-made obstacles in the wild, and young birds learn through experiences that they don't often survive.

I think that maybe a great horned owl caught this owl at night and had half a meal, or maybe a mammal plucked the saw-whet from a low perch during the day. I don't believe it was killed by a diurnal raptor like a cooper's hawk, because the owl would have been surrounded by plucked feathers. 

If you find a banded bird contact the bird banding laboratory (BBL) and you will receive information about that bird  AND a certificate of appreciation. Thank you!

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Fall 2017 migration season kept the BCCER owl banders very busy, and very happy! We had 175 total captures including 162 new owls and 13 same season recaptures. The owls consisted of 121 females, 11 males and 30 of unknown sex. We had a whopping 120 hatch year owls (owls hatched in summer 2017) and 40 owls were two years and older (17 were three+ years!). See the previous post for more details: