Birding the UP and Owl Numbers

Snowy Owl in Pickford

Snowy Owl in Pickford

It may still feel like winter in Northern Michigan, but we are not want for things to do! Saturday morning, the amazingly knowledgeable Steve Baker took the two of us owl banders and Kevin, MSRW’s hawk counter, for a quick jaunt up to the UP. We saw so much cool stuff—a stunning sunrise over the Bridge, Sharp-tailed Grouse on a lek, 16 Snowy Owls, Rough-legged Hawks, Bald Eagles, Evening Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Bohemian Waxwings, what felt like hundreds of deer… and back in time for Kevin to take up his post at the Hawk Watch!

As far as the banding goes, the weather did improve for the weekend, but the owls were not moving much. We had a slow couple of nights, and then Sunday (29 March) we had another snow/rain/mush storm. But I heard my first American Woodcock of the season early Sunday morning, so I’m still hopeful that spring is on its way.

Here are the numbers we promised you:

21 March

12 Northern Saw-whet Owls

22 March

4 Northern Saw-whet Owls

23 March

6 Northern Saw-whet Owls

24 March

8 Northern Saw-whet Owls

25 March

NO BANDING

26 March

NO BANDING

27 March

4 Northern Saw-whet Owls

28 March

2 Northern Saw-whet Owls

29 March

NO BANDING

30 March

9 Northern Saw-whet Owls

Season Total:

57 Northern Saw-whet Owls

On 24 March, a majority of the birds were captured between 3:30 and 5:30, and they may have been moving in ahead of the front that passed through the area and brought bad weather the following nights. Fronts might ‘push’ birds along in their migration, which is a pattern we will be looking for throughout the season. Another sentiment I often hear is that the birds must hunker down when it’s especially chilly, but so far, we haven’t noticed that being the case—these little owls are built for the cold!

In other news, we have been hearing a Great Horned Owl with some regularity, so perhaps it will be paying us a visit soon.

Next time: Foreign Recaptures. Stay tuned!