Its been a record-breaking year at MSRW’s Point LaBarbe owl-banding station but all good things must come to an end. Starting Halloween night, we noticed a marked decrease in the number of Northern Saw-whet Owls landing in our nets. Part of the reason has been some sub-optimal migration conditions – especially winds and a bright full moon. Saw-whet movements tend to be depressed with high winds and bright conditions. But last night (November 5th/6th) we had perfect conditions – calm and dark – but caught ‘just’ eight saw-whets. In most years, eight would be a great number but this year, single-digit nightly captures have been rare. Early to mid-November is typically when saw-whet migration winds down so this is not surprising. Hopefully our record-breaking number of banded birds are somewhere down south and finding lots of rodents to eat!
Last night we also had a pleasant surprise – our 11th Long-eared Owl of the season. Also a record for the Point LaBarbe banding station.
We will continue to band into next week – could we possibly reach 650 saw-whets for the season? Stay tuned . . . .
Owl-banding totals September 18th through November6th:
Northern Saw-whet Owl: 634
Long-eared Owl: 11
Barred Owl: 2
Eastern Whip-poor-will: 1
Ruffed Grouse: 1
-Nancy Drilling, lead owl-bander