Monthly Archives: March 2016

Owl Banding, March 25/26

It was exciting to get back to banding last night!  It was a clear night with very little wind and temperatures in the low 30’s and upper 20’s.  Our hike to check nets proved to be a little more difficult with all of the snow on the ground, but we were just happy to be in operation.

We captured four saw-whets over the course of the night, including one that was already banded.  It’s band number was similar to our first foreign recapture from Whitefish Point, but we still need to determine exactly where it was banded.  All of the birds were female. Two were second year birds and two were third year birds.

It looks like we will be able to get another full night in tonight.  The forecast shows cloudy skies, temperatures in the 30’s and winds out of the southeast.  Hopefully, owls have had the chance to get fueld up after the big storm and are ready to migrate!

Waterbird Count, March 25 — 1000+ Long-tailed Ducks

A welcomed improvement from yesterday — weather-wise and bird-wise! It was sunny and in the mid-30s with very calm, westerly winds. Around 9:30am, I spotted approximately 400 Long-tailed Ducks in flight south of St. Helena Island, where they eventually resettled. Throughout the day, many more groups of Long-taileds moved west toward the south side of the island, where I could see that nearly all of them were landing. Aside from this, the ducks were about the same as usual. But I did have a first or second cycle Great Black-backed Gull flying south across the Straits and also had two flyover blackbird sp. that I believe were Brewer’s Blackbirds based on call, but I’m not confident enough to say for sure. Unfortunately, I missed Kevin’s call about a Black Vulture headed my way and it had likely crossed the Straits before I could look for it.

Tomorrow’s forecast shows southerly winds, so I’m hopeful for some new arrivals.

Canada Goose – 2
Mallard – 2
White-winged Scoter – 18
Long-tailed Duck – 1115
Bufflehead – 1
Common Goldeneye – 8
Common Merganser – 15
Red-breasted Merganser – 106
Common/Red-breasted Merganser – 1
Unidentified duck sp. – 59

Northern Harrier – 3
Bald Eagle – 5
Great Black-backed Gull – 1

Waterbird Count, March 24

Rough conditions today — 20-25 mph winds, heavy snow for most of the morning, and about a mile or less of visibility all day. Interestingly, most of the ducks were traveling east into the strong headwind. Overall, very few birds were moving, but I still managed two new species for the season: American Black Duck and Greater Scaup.

American Black Duck – 1
Redhead – 7
Greater Scaup – 2
Long-tailed Duck – 1
Common Goldeneye – 6
Common Merganser – 2
Red-breasted Merganser – 25
Unidentified duck sp. – 13


Clear skies in the morning with high cirrus with light East wind thru out the day becoming completely overcast with heavy clouds moving up from the south.6 Bald Eagles and 1 Golden Eagle were seen plus 1 Rough-legged hawk plus plus 1 Gyrfalcon!!! Steve Baker shouted out to me Falcon! Saw the large falcon  on the whitish side disappearing into the woodlot at Darrow’s could not relocate. Never can tell what might show up! Tomorrow sounds like a snow storm.

Waterbird Count, March 23

Pretty slow day despite decent conditions. Variety and numbers were mediocre. Canada Geese were on the move and 4 Mute Swans were my first for the count. Tomorrow’s forecast of snow and strong winds sounds pretty dismal.

Canada Goose – 80
Mute Swan – 4
Redhead – 3
Unidentified Aythya sp. – 150
Common Goldeneye – 5
Common Merganser – 26
Red-breasted Merganser – 73
Unidentified duck sp. – 149

Bald Eagle – 7
Northern Harrier – 1
Merlin – 1
Sandhill Cranes – 2

Whitefish Point Recapture

We were unable to band last night due to the weather. Unfortunately, the next couple of nights don’t look too promising either.

Despite not being able to open nets, we did learn something interesting yesterday. We learned that an owl we captured on Monday that already had a band, was banded last spring in Whitefish Point. This was our first foreign recapture of the season!

Waterbird Count, March 22

Today was plagued by snow and poor visibility. From around 8:30 AM onward, I could only see about 1 mile or less across the Straits. Despite low numbers, I still had decent variety, including a lone Hooded Merganser.

Canada Goose – 2
Mallard – 8
Redhead – 4
Common Goldeneye – 2
Bufflehead – 1
Common Merganser – 26
Red-breasted Merganser – 53
Hooded Merganser – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 12
White-winged Scoter – 4
Unidentified duck sp. – 34

Bald Eagle – 2
Merlin – 1

Owl Banding, March 21/22

Last night, we completed our first full night of owl banding for the season! Our nets were in operation from about 8pm to 8am. The night started out with some mild winds and temperatures in the mid 30’s. Clouds began to roll in, bringing cooler temperatures from the north. By the end of the night, the sky was clear and there was very little wind.

We banded 3 Northern Saw-whet Owls. Two were captured on our first net run of the evening, and the third around 3:20am. All of the birds were females and at least in their second year.

Earlier in the day, Kim spotted a Snowy Owl at the state park. We also enjoyed hearing a Woodcock calling as we were doing our net runs.

The snowy weather over the next couple of days will likely limit the amount of time we can spend banding. We will be watching the weather closely and get out there whenever we can!


Winds out of the NW in the  beginning of the day turning more to the W with clouds building thru the afternoon  clearing later in the day. Had 26 Bald Eagles with  4 being immatures, one light morph Rough-legged Hawk that Steve Baker found flying right overhead ,thanks Steve! 6 Golden Eagles with 1 immature that put on a nice low show overhead,3 Merlins   today with 2 of them buzzing the feeders maybe the local pair are back! Turkey Vultures are back  and late in the day 4 came in bringing a friend 1 Black Vulture flying about 200 ft. overhead!