Not only does weather affect bird activities, including migration, it also affects field biologists’ activities. At the MSRW owl-banding station on Point Labarbe, we have not been able to open nets for three of the past five nights because of weather. One night was canceled because of rain. Obviously we should not try to catch owls in the rain and owls probably aren’t migrating in such weather anyways. Two nights, including last night, were canceled because of high winds. Owls may be on the move in such conditions but winds blow the netting around, potentially injuring a netted bird. We generally have a cutoff of ~15 mph winds but it depends on wind direction and the placement of our nets. Sometimes nets are protected from winds by the surrounding trees and we can try to catch owls. If not protected enough, we don’t open nets or close open nets when they are blowing around too much. Then we go to sleep, something in short supply during owl-banding season!
On the other hand, Ben and Calvin, MSRW’s waterbird and hawk counters respectively, love wind because they generally count more diurnal raptors on windy days. When it rains, they still have to count so they pull out the umbrellas (or sit in their cars). Check out their results in their blogs on this site! Because they work during the day, they can sleep at night like normal people and aren’t sleep-deprived, except when they help us at the owl-banding station.
Owl-banding totals September 18th through October 8th:
Northern Saw-whet Owl: 292
Long-eared Owl: 2
Barred Owl: 1
-Nancy Drilling, lead owl-bander