Monthly Archives: October 2014

Night of 18 October

Last night was awesome.

A cold, dry (finally) night with northwest winds was the perfect weather to get the owls moving. We had one saw-whet on the first net check and then seven on the second net check. After that, it was busy, busy, busy. Our last owl of the night (Er, morning?) was banded at 0615 hrs leaving the last two hours a little quiet.

We caught a total of 38 northern saw-whets and two barred owls. Of the 38 saw-whets, two were already banded. Ed is working on getting the info on those birds, which I’ll write about a little later.

Photo by Ed Pike

Little Brown Bat captured a few nights ago. BEAUTIFUL creatures (Photo by Selena Creed)


Night of 16 October

Fourteen more saw-whets were banded last night before the rain moved through at 0115 hrs. The nets were closed for the night at 0130.

We also caught our second healthy little brown bat of the season.

Official count is 111 northern saw-whets and 2 barred owls.


13 October 2014

The winds were a bit shifty last night starting out from the south and then eventually moving over from the east. We had a few birds trickle through-seven more saw-whets were banded plus one recapture.

The recapture was a bird I banded on 27 September–17 days ago. At the time, given the wing chord and weight of the bird, the sex was unknown. When I weighed it last night, it had gained 11 grams, which enabled me to sex the bird as a female. I think it’s really interesting that she stayed in this area for that long.

The forecast looks pretty sad for the next few nights, though it’s hard to say what it’s really going to do. Tonight, however, there is 100% chance of rain, so we will not be banding this evening.

Stay tuned.


Another visit from a Barred Owl

12 October 2014

We had a little bit of a slow start to the night, but ended up banding 10 more saw-whets and one more barred owl. There was a time when I thought barred owls were docile birds, but I have completely changed my mind after handling the last two really grouchy ones. Nothing really compares to saw-whets and their sweet disposition, I guess.

The official count so far is 85 northern saw-whets and 2 barred owls!

I’d like to thank the Straits Area Audubon for coming out last night. What a great turn out with 20 people! I’d also like to thank Darrell Lawson for all of his help, moral support, and good conversation last night and into the early morning hours. He stayed until we wrapped up the nets!

Photo by Darrell Lawson


Something new

11 October 2014

Before I start, I want to apologize for spacing out on posting the update for Thursday night. It was a rather exciting night and not because of numbers, but because we caught something new.

At the 2230 hr net check, my heart skipped a beat when I saw a large clump in the bottom panel of one of the nets. My first thought was, “Oh, no. Another snowshoe”, but this time it was indeed a barred owl.

Thankfully, after banding and releasing the dark-eyed beauty, it continued on its way and didn’t become a nuisance. I’ll post a picture tomorrow.

We caught a total of 9 owls Thursday night (one barred and eight saw-whets) and banded eight of them as one of the saw-whets was already banded. We’ll know a more about where said owl was banded later this week and I’ll be sure to share the info.

Last night was our busiest night so far, but not by much. We banded 13 saw-whets between 2030 hrs-0530 hrs. The last two hours of the morning were pretty quiet.

Tonight looks like another good night as far as the weather goes, so hopefully the visiting members of the Cheboygan Audubon will get to see a few owls this evening. Looking forward to seeing you out there. Bundle up!


High winds

9 October 2014:

The winds weren’t too bad when I set the nets up last night. They were blowing from the west at about 3-6 mph, but by 2330 hrs they increased to 15-20 with 27 mph gusts. We decided to close the nets at that time, but we did catch and band two more saw-whets.

Tonight looks good!

Another damp one

Ed and I were sitting at the table last night when we heard a rumble from the west. We both passed it off as a vehicle zipping down the dirt road, but when we heard it again we realized it was thunder and decided to step outside to scope it out.

It wasn’t long before we felt a couple of rain drops as well as the wind pick up, so we scurried to get the nets wrapped up before the rain came. We barely had enough time to push the nets together before sheets of rain began falling from the sky, but we continued wrapping until the job was done as we weren’t too concerned with melting out there.

We ended up banding five more saw-whets last night before closing everything down at 2200 hrs. As for tonight, it looks like it’s going to be too windy/rainy to do anything, but the forecast for the rest of the week looks great.

Hope to see you there!


Finally, a dry evening

After a few days of rain, the weather was dry enough to set up the mist nets last night and the owls were moving! Between 2000 hrs-2230hrs, eight saw-whets were banded, but as soon as the wind gusts increased to around 10 mph, the action halted. By 0100, the winds were a steady 13 mph from the south and I had to close the net lanes. Still, eight owls in 2.5 hours is great!

Other exciting news:

I had an unsuspected visitor at my 2330 hr net check. I walked the perimeter of the empty mist nets and was making my way back to the camper when I noticed a bird in the net. I recognized it immediately by its large, dark eyes and brown, mottled feathers. Yes, an eastern whip-poor-will! What a gorgeous bird! After banding it and taking the necessary measurements, I released it into the night and wished it well.

Today, the sky is full of birds migrating south. I’ve seen several kettles of turkey vultures and countless sharp-shinned hawks soaring above the tree line before they cross the Straits. I also saw three bald eagles and just happened to notice that one of the juveniles was sporting a patagial tag (although I couldn’t clearly read the two digits on it _8?)

On a side note, it’s really wet out here, so if you plan to come out for a couple of hours, be sure to bring your rubber boots!