Owl Banding 10/7/16

Pointe LaBarbe, St. Ignace, Mi
Night of October 7th, 2016

High winds out of the Northwest made for an irregular night of banding, we recorded winds as high as 30 miles per hour! Winds that high will billow the nets open, which allows the birds to bounce out instead of becoming tangled. We were able to keep the Saw-whet audio lure net open since it is surrounded by trees and was protected from the winds. Upon opening we had most of the birds right away, which was great for the Straits Area Audubon Group that was visiting. In the second hour of banding we had 12 birds in the net, resulting in a nightly total of 26 new birds banded! As with most nights, almost all the birds were female (22) and the other 4 birds were unknown, with their measurements falling into the gray zone between female and male. Of the female Saw-whets, we had 13 hatch year birds, 2 second year birds, and 7 after second year birds. Of the unknown Saw-whets, 2 were hatch year birds, and the other 2 were aged as after second years. Aging Saw-whet owls is rather easy compared to aging other bird species when banding, as they have a chemical in their feathers that will glow hot pink under ultraviolet light. Depending on the pattern of pink (new) feathers to old (white) feathers on the underside of the wing, we are able to easily age them.

Photos courtesy of Rob Routledge of Sault College

oct-04-4204968

The pattern of a hatch year Saw-whet Owl. When all the flight feathers are relatively new and show a uniform coloring, it means that all the feathers grew in at the same time. This only happens when the bird is born and growing in flight feathers for the first time, so we are able to tell this bird was born in the spring.

This is a pattern of a second year bird. The old (white) feathers are being replaced by new (pink) feathers one at a time, symmetrically on both wings. This way the bird doesn't loose its ability to fly during its replacement of worn out feathers.

This is a pattern of a second year bird. The old (white) feathers are being replaced by new (pink) feathers one at a time, symmetrically on both wings. This way the bird doesn’t loose its ability to fly during its replacement of worn out feathers.