Owl Banding: Big Hoots

Greetings again,

Nick and I wanted to update our blogs, since we have had some good nights of owl banding. On Wednesday night, we were pleasantly surprised to have MSRW chair, Ed Pike, running nets with us. In the first couple of nets rounds, we had captured 6 Saw-whets. Nick went back to the banding lab to process some birds and Ed and I were at the net extracting birds. As we were extracting our last bird in the net, we heard the hoot of a Barred Owl, the classic, “Who-who, who-cooks-for-you.” Some owl hoots or passerine songs are described through mnemonics, hence the “who-cooks-for-you.” I quietly asked Ed if he heard the BDOW and he did. Jokingly, my next statement was, “We are going to catch that Barred tonight!” Ed and I walked the rest of the Saw-whets to our banding lab for processing.

Soon enough it was time for another net round. Nick and Ed remained in the lab processing birds, so I was off on a net run by myself. As soon as I walked up to net 1, a big owl hung low in the bottom pocket. I was very excited to extract our first BDOW capture.

First Barred Owl (Strix varia) capture of the season.

The following night, April 13th going into the 14th, seemed to be a promising night. Cheboygan State Park doesn’t have any resident Barred Owls, so we figured the BDOW from the night before was making it’s way to Canada. Usually when BDOWs make their presence known, all of the smaller owls either hunker down for the night or move out of the area to avoid predation. We predicted good movements of Saw-whets migrating through. We started the night with 5 NSWO captures and this was quite early in the night. After we had captured these owls, it was super slow and didn’t capture anymore Saw-whets for the night. As we were on a net round in the middle of the night, we encountered a Barred Owl near the triangle. We figured this is probably the reason why Saw-whet captures have slowed down. On our way back from net 7, our furthest net, roughly 600 meters west of net 1 (the triangle), we had a visual of 2 more Barred Owls. Throughout the night, we encountered a minimum of at least 6 BDOWs in the area. We figured that they too were making their way back to Canada. By the end of the night, we had captured 3 of the 6 Barred Owls that we had encountered. Capturing big owls definitely makes for a fun night of banding.

14 April 2017 12:34 AM, first BDOW of the night.

Last two BDOW captures for the night.

As the banding nights keep on rolling, our goal is to reach 200 newly banded Saw-whets for the season. Right now we are at 133 total owl captures:

121 newly banded NSWOs

4 recaptures NSWOs

4 newly banded BDOWs

3 newly banded LEOWs

1 newly banded EASO

Nick and I will be out of internet access for another couple of weeks, but we will try to maintain our blogs for those who are following. Next time we will report where our foreign recapture came from, amphibian encounters, and a slow motion soft release of a Barred Owl and a Long-eared Owl. Until next time, good birding!