Owl-banding update: Every night is different

Thursday and Friday nights provided a lot of excitement at the owl-banding station at Point Labarbe but despite similar weather conditions, they couldn’t have been more different. Thursday night, under bright cloudy skies, a northwest breeze and chilly temperatures, Northern Saw-whet Owls came through in flocks, at a clip of 10 – 15 owls netted per hour. We ended up with 58 saw-whets for the night, despite having to close some nets for a few hours. This is not quite a one-night capture record, but its close!

Weather on Friday night was similar and we thought we would have another block-buster capture night. However, the saw-whets did not get the message and we ‘just’ caught 20 saw-whets, with the last capture at 2:30 AM. Normally, 20 owls in a night would be noteworthy but this is not a normal year! The highlight of the night came around midnight, when a Barred Owl went into our nets. Based on her size, it likely was a female. A beautiful bird and the first that either Kandace or I had banded.

Bander Kandace Glanville with our first Barred Owl capture of the season. Photo by Nancy Drilling

There are four owl species that could be caught at the Pt. Labarbe fall station: saw-whets, Long-eared Owl, Barred Owl, and Boreal Owl. We have now caught at least one individual of three species. The fourth, Boreal Owl, is the rarest, especially in fall, but we are rooting for at least one to find our nets.

Species totals through October 2nd (Friday night):

Northern Saw-whet Owl: 221

Long-eared Owl: 2

Barred Owl: 1

Eastern Whip-poor-will: 1

Nancy Drilling