Owl Banding: Uncommon Capture

Greetings,

Nick and I would like to apologize for the delayed blogs. We are stationed in a rustic cabin in Cheboygan State Park without electricity or running water. This makes it difficult to blog when we don’t have internet access.

Anyhow, owl banding has been quite fun these past two weeks. After we attended the Raptor Fest banquet, we returned to the park for a night of banding. Our first couple of net rounds were not too busy, but we did have one or two birds in most net runs. We ended the night with 12 captures and one of them was a very special guest bird celebrity. In over 10 years, we managed to capture the 2nd Eastern Screech-owl (Megascops asio) in MSRW history.

When we netted the EASO, we were pleasantly surprised to have captured such a cool bird. Not only was it an uncommon owl for the area, but also an uncommon plumage for the bird. EASOs exhibit polymorphism which entails the presence of genetic variation within a population upon which natural selection can operate. Basically this means that EASOs has two different plumage types dependent on genetic recombination. The result of these combinations comes a gray morph and a rufous morph EASO. There are lower encounters of rufous morph EASOS in their northern range, which includes Minnesota, North Dakota, and the Lower Peninsula of northern Michigan. This is one of the reasons why we were so ecstatic about capturing this owl.

Newly banded Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)