Monthly Archives: October 2014

Night of 30 October

No banding due to rain/snow throughout the evening.

Below is a picture courtesy of North Central Michigan College biology professor, Kathy Germain. This photo was from last weekend (24 October) when she visited the banding station with four of her biology students.


Owl Banding at Point La Barbe Selena and Students 10-24-14
Owl bander, Selena Creed, points out a northern saw-whet owl’s facial disk and ear openings to NCMC biology students. Photo by Kathy Germain

Night of 29 October

Another seven northern saw-whets were captured at the banding station last night. Six were banded by yours truly and one was a foreign retrap (previously banded at another location). I’ll work on getting the info on that bird later this weekend and will, of course, share it here.

What I find interesting is that many of our foreign retraps were captured in the passive net and not the audio lure net. Ed and I briefly talked about this today and think it’s a possibility that previously banded saw-whets might avoid the audio lure all together. It’s an interesting thought.

So, as far as numbers go, I’m impressed that we’re at 200+ owls-especially with how many rain/high wind nights we’ve had all season. We’ve had only one really big push of birds where we caught 40 owls and the rest of the nights ranged anywhere from 0-20 owls. A part of me really hopes to see a couple more big nights, but it’s getting late in the migration, so that might not occur. Still, I’m happy to be catching a few here and there. Its hard to believe things will be wrapping up in just 11 more days. If you haven’t had the chance to come up, hopefully you find some time between now and our end date. I can’t guarantee any owls, but the view here sure is something else.

Stay tuned.

Nights of 26-28 October

Things at the Straits have been rather uneventful lately as far as the owl migration goes. Ed and I were hopeful that the night of the 26th would be busy due to a break in the weather, but the winds swung around to the south and the owls quit moving after 0030 hrs. That made for a bit of a long night as I’m sure you can imagine. I do net checks every half hour and every half hour until 0700 hrs my hope was crushed (the drama!). Sometimes, with owl banding, a little self-torture is involved, which is fine. When the owls do cooperate, though, it’s totally worth it. Anyhow, we ended up with nine more saw-whets that night.

We didn’t open the nets on the 27th or 28th due to rain and high winds. Tonight, however, looks good and we’re hoping for a big push of birds before the next batch of rain and, dare I say, snow. Stay tuned.


Night of 25 October

Another blustery fall evening at the Straits. The winds were supposedly going to die down as the night progressed, but they actually continued to build.

 You’ll never guess what we caught on each net check though. Cedar leaves! And lots of them. We cleaned the nets out on each net check and made the call to close around 2100 hrs. The west winds were gusting to over 25 mph and continued to blow into the early morning.

The weather forecast for tonight looks great with light NW winds and clear skies. It could be a good one!

Night of 24 October

We were almost skunked last night, but one, lone saw-whet prevented that from happening at the 2130 hr net check.

Southwest winds continued to build throughout the evening and eventually reached speeds around 15 mph. We wrapped up the nets around 0430 hrs due to the high winds.

I’m so very happy that last night’s group had the opportunity to see an owl before people started to head home.



Night of 23 October

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I have to say it again: catching a banded bird is so exciting!

We captured another 14 northern saw-whets last night and, you guessed it, one was banded. Her band was really dirty and needed to be wiped down before I could make out any digits. Evidence of a breeding bird, which makes me happy. After a few minutes of scrubbing, I retrieved the band info and submitted it to the banding lab. She was banded on 1 November 2012 near Newark, Greene County, Indiana as a hatch year bird. Last night,  she weighed in at a healthy 99 grams and we aged her as an after second year bird, which means that she’s older than two years.

The official count is 204 northern saw-whets and four barred owls. (In case anyone noticed, there was a bit of an adding error on my behalf from earlier in the week. It has been corrected and the above numbers are up-to-date.)

Tonight doesn’t look all that great. There is currently a stiff south wind that is supposed to increase to around 10-15 mph. We probably won’t catch many owls, but I’m hoping for a few since we have a small group coming out tonight.

Stay tuned.

Night of 22 October

We caught another 10 northern saw-whets last night.  Not the busiest evening, but definitely a beautiful one. There were still a few meteors lighting up the sky-remnants of the Orionids, I suppose.

NOAA is calling for a chance of drizzle tonight after midnight,  so we’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed that we catch a few.

Night of 21 October

Another beautiful evening on the Straits last night. The winds started out NNE and then switched over to E a little after midnight. We started out pretty slow catching one here and one there and had seven saw-whets by 0030hrs. We were a little worried things would quit moving after the east winds moved in, but we actually continued to pick away at ’em.

We caught and banded a total of 17 saw whets last night. The official count is now 185 northern saw-whets and four barred owls. Not too shabby!

We’ll see what tonight and those light south winds do for us. Hopefully, the owls continue to move…stay tuned.

Night of 20 October

The weather started off a little iffy, but it ended up being a fairly decent evening. We caught 19 saw-whets last night-two of which were already banded! Its such a treat to catch a banded bird.

One of the two banded saw-whets we caught a couple of nights ago was banded at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory on 25 April 2013 as a second year female. There is no info on that second bird yet.

It’ll be interesting to see where the two from last night were banded and, as always, I’ll try to relay the info.

I’m predicting a busy week with all of this clear weather ahead of us. It’s evident that the birds are starting to move more and more, so things could get exciting. I know I’m not the only one hoping for a long-eared. Maybe this will be the week!