Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to another update for the 2018 spring owl banding blog! Pleasant weather continues here in the straits (with the occasional rain shower or thunderstorm) and the saw-whets continue to migrate.
MAY 2: 9 saw-whets, cloudy most of the night with no rain
MAY 3: 4 saw-whets, we had to close around 12:30 due to rain showers moving into the area which continued for the rest of the night and into the morning.
MAY 4: 2 saw-whets and….drum roll please…..1 LONG EARED OWL!!! Yes that’s right we captured and banded our first (and hopefully not our last) long-eared owl around 1AM.
This long-eared owl is a second year (SY) female and she weighed 280 grams. For comparison an average female saw-whet weighs between 90 and 95 grams. The long-eared owl is in the genus Asio along with the short-eared owl. Long-eared owls are strictly nocturnal and hunt for small mammals in open grassland areas. They look similar to the much larger great-horned owl with their prominent ear tufts which is how both get their namesake. However, the tufts are not ears at all, but simply erect feathers that can mimic small twigs when the owl is attempting to camouflage itself.
We have also been hearing a barred owl calling in the distance for the last few nights as well as the pair of great-horned owls that continue to hoot back and forth to each other on occasion.
In addition to catching owls we also been paying attention to the emergence of the local amphibians. for the week or so we have been hearing a chorus of spring peepers, wood frogs, leopard frogs and the occasional bull frog. As we walk the trail between net locations we have also discovered a few blue spotted salamanders making their way across the path.
The world is completely different between dusk and dawn and its very exciting to experience the sights and the sounds of the “night life” here in Cheboygan State Park.
Thanks for checking in and be sure to stop back often for more updates!
Northern saw-whet owls: 164
Long-eared owls: 1
Sharp-shinned hawks: 2