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!

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