Author Archives: Selena Creed

Slow trickle of saw-whets

Things have definitely slowed down a bit with the recent nasty weather across the northern Lower Peninsula-just my personal thoughts regarding the lack of birds over the last couple of nights. We had clear skies for the first half of the evening last night and then the clouds rolled in. The rain, however, missed us and we were able to keep the nets open until dawn.

Six more Northern Saw-whet Owls were banded last night bringing our count to 164 so far. We’re hoping for a few birds to move through tonight before the southwest winds pick up. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update to see how we do!



One is the loneliest number

I had to laugh at myself when the lyrics “One is the loneliest number you that you’ll ever do…” went playing through my head in the wee hours of the morning. Even more amusing is the fact that this song, “One”, is by the band Three Dog Night, which accurately describes the weather on the point last night. Temperatures dipped to 29°F by 0100 hours resulting in a beautiful thin layer of frost across the landscape. The north winds died down to less than 5 mph at around 0300 hours just in time for a little snow to fly. It was a really beautiful night.

I want to thank everyone for coming up last night despite the frigid temps and threatening rain/snow showers. It was so great to meet new people and to reconnect with past visitors; the growing interest in MSRW is really exciting! If only the birds had cooperated before everyone had to part ways.  Also, thank you for the firewood donations and delicious snacks; Jasper and I feel really spoiled! (I won’t disclose the number of doughnuts I consumed after everyone left.)

The only NSWO capture of the night occurred at around 0330 hours just after the snow showers. Based on what I was seeing on the radar last night, it makes sense that nothing was moving south as areas across the northern Lower Peninsula were receiving snow.

Tonight’s weather predictions are more of the same with a 40% chance of rain/snow and NW winds at around 10mph. A few intrepid souls plan on joining tonight, so fingers-crossed for a little action from the owls.

Night of 15-October

Well, the rain showers missed us last night, but the winds were strong out of the northwest for much of the night. I didn’t expect much to be moving with 12 mph winds and was, again, surprised with how the evening went. Twelve NSWO were captured; nine were new captures and three were repeats we had banded earlier in the month (two hatch year birds banded on the 7th and one after second year banded on the night of the 13th). The repeats will not be added again into our total count, but I find it interesting to note that these birds were still hanging out on the point. One of the saw-whets originally banded on the 7th had gained 3 grams and the other had lost 2 grams. Are they sticking around to fatten up before crossing the Straits? Who knows.

Total NSWO count: 157

As for tonight, things are extremely slow. With this clear night and north wind, I figured the owls would be moving, but alas.

I do know of at least one saw-whet hanging around though. In fact, while I type this the little guy or gal is screeching away from the cedars near the audio lure. Tease.

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Owl News: Night of 14 October

Shortly after dusk, heavy rain showers moved through the Straits and lasted for about an hour and a half. Once it cleared up, it didn’t take long for the nets to dry out with the strong southwest wind blowing. We were up and running at 2200 hours and caught our first owl of the night shortly thereafter-a great reward for the students from Sault College that stuck it out through the rain showers.

Sometime around 0130 hours, the winds calmed down a bit and switched over to the west. This resulted in a nice push of birds for a couple of hours until the winds picked back up. Total last night: 12 Northern Saw-whet Owls.

The weather looks a little iffy tonight with a 70% chance of scattered showers predicted. Of course, that could definitely change between now and then.

Double Digits

On the night of 12 October, the banding station closed at 2330 hours due to rain. One NSWO was captured, banded and released early in the night before the rain came through.

We really didn’t expect last night (13-Oct) to be very busy with the strong NW winds and predicted rain showers, but the weather turned around shortly after dusk and we actually ended up having a good night. We banded eighteen Northern Saw-whet Owls! That brings us to 136.

Tonight’s winds are predicted to be west at around 10 mph-should see a few more birds moving through tonight, too!

Owls move despite southwest wind

I was delighted to catch a few migrating Northern Saw-whet Owls last night. The winds were predicted to be southwest at 15+ mph, but the night actually started off with light west winds that never exceeded 10 mph even after they switched around from the southwest. Seven saw-whets were captured, banded and released, which makes our official count 117 NSWO with 30 days left of the season!

I’m still waiting for that long-eared to show up. Maybe if our readers keep their fingers and toes crossed?

West winds 10-15 mph are predicted for tonight with 80% chance of rain after 11 pm. I’m hoping for a good movement of birds before the rain moves in…

Owl News: 9 Oct-10 Oct

We had a wonderful group of people come out for Friday night’s owl banding. A group of biology students came down from Sault College, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and several members from the Straits Area Audubon came up for a few hours, too. And we even caught a few owls to show everyone!

A total of eight Northern Saw-whet Owls were captured. Six were new captures for us and two were already wearing bands from unknown locations (no info available yet).

The banding station was closed last night (10 Oct) due to extreme winds ripping through the Straits.

Things on the point look pretty good at the moment, surprisingly. The winds were predicted to be SW at 10-15 mph, but we’re currently having light west winds. Fingers crossed we catch a few before the winds build.

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A for effort

Drizzle, drizzle, and more drizzle. It was one of those nights that I wished it would do one or the other-rain or clear up already. At about 2300 hours, things looked promising and I began opening up the nets at the NSWO location. As soon as the nets were unraveled and opened, it started to drizzle again. So, I promptly closed the nets and went in for shelter. At 0200 hours, things started to dry out and I was able to open the nets and run the audio lures for two hours before the drizzle started again. No owls were caught during that time.

Northwest winds at 5-10 mph are predicted for tonight, so we should see more action than last night. On a side note, I’ve seen several Rusty Blackbirds on the point over the last couple of days as well as a few White-crowned Sparrows and my first of the fall Dark-eyed Juncos.

Another great night in the books

We had a great night of banding last night with 27 saw-whets captured. We banded 26 new saw-whets and had one foreign retrap that was a hatch year bird with no info at this time (probably banded at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory this past summer).

That’s puts us at 102 Northern Saw-whet Owls so far.

It’s currently drizzling over the Straits, but is forecasted to clear any time. As soon as the weather improves, the nets will be opened and surveys will commence.

Retraps, recaptures, and aurora borealis

The night was off to a slow start due to the 10 mph SW winds. Shortly after 0130 hours, the winds were out of the west and the owls started to move. Eight NSWO were captured last night with the first capture being at 0230 hours. Of the eight captured, three were already wearing bands (two foreign retraps and one recapture); one was banded on 10-18-14 at Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Manitowoc, WI, there was no info at this time for the second retrap, and the third was a recapture I banded here on Pointe La Barbe last fall on 10-11-14. That makes two recaptures from last season so far this fall.

Total NSWO captures: 75

On a side note, I saw a beautiful display of the northern lights at around 0530 hours while walking back from checking the nets. Despite the slow start, it was a great night.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s update, rain is predicted for Thursday, so with that in mind-as well as the clear, calm night predicted for this evening-I think we’ll see some good numbers.