OWlTASTIC: Owl update x4

Hello everyone! If you have just finished reading my above blog on the diurnal raptor banding update and enjoyed it then you will for sure be interested in this blog post regarding what has been going on during the owl surveys/banding in Cheboygan State Park over the past week or so. Since I last left off we have continued to capture Saw-whets but things are beginning to taper off as we approach the end of the migration and subsequently the end of the spring banding season.

Over the past 10 days we have had to battle adverse weather conditions and had lost 3 full nights of banding. We have also been battling strong winds from the North, East and the combination of northeast which is just the worst… and with all of these variables combined it has not facilitated great owl movement. However despite all of this our season continues to be quite successful in terms of owl species diversity, number of recaptures and number of saw-whets which is our target species. As I titled my last blog (spring of the recaptures) that continues to hold true as we continue to catch more and more recaps! Let me get you all caught up;

Since my last blog we have added another 4 recaptures, 3 of which have been saw-whets annnddd get this one was a Long-eared owl which is incredible since so few are banded the chance of getting a recapture is very uncommon. First let me tell you about the saw-whets before we talk about the long-ear. One of the recaps came to us yet again from Whitefish point we always seem to catch a lot of their birds which is great, this shows us that these birds are using the same migration pathway through Michigan year after year. We also netted another bird from Hilliardton, ON that was banded just this past fall not by me but by one of my friends that was with me up north so this was very cool to say the least! Finally our last saw-whet also hailed from Ontario and was banded this past fall in a town called Wheatley. This bird was a Hatch year last fall so it is great that she has survived her first migration as she heads back to the boreal forest to breed. Now the Long-eared owl we recaptured was originally banded back in April of 2017 at Whitefish Point. This is pretty neat as at that same time this bird was banded I was working here in Cheboygan state park with my good friend Arthur as we ran the owl protocol for MSRW a few years back. Now what was really cool about this recap was that back in 2017 this owl was aged as an after third year/female which is the oldest age you can assign a long-ear with confidence meaning this bird is at least 3 years old but it could be older. When we captured this bird we also aged this bird that same and this was based off of various plumage characteristics including replacement patterns of feathers in the wing along with patterns seen in the tail. Then we determined the sex of the long-ear based off of the plumage coloration in the underwing feathers. Needless to say we know from recapturing this bird that she is at LEAST 5 years old which is amazing! This bird may take the cake for the most exciting recap this spring but who know there is still a fair amount of time left in the season. We will just have to wait and see! Until next time we hope that we get a last push of owls and I will like always do my best to keep all you fine folks updated!

The Foreign Recap LEOW from Whitefish, this lass is at least 5 years old!

Season Totals: Total Birds: 175

NSWO: 151

LEOW: 4 (1 Foreign Recap)

BDOW: 3

Recaptures: 17 (NSWO)