Monday, October 29, 2007

Rowan Goes Owling!




Rowan, age 3, with her first banded Saw-whet Owl. Proud father Steve Huy says she asked lots of questions during the banding and listened intently to all the answers. "She named this one 'Baby Daisy Owl' but there were no tears when it was time to let her go. " Excellent on all counts.

Steve says that the population of Northern Saw-whet owls should be up this year thanks to last year's excellent mast crop in Canada. Owl experts are able to predict these kinds of thing now thanks to dedicated owl trappers, banders, and data-gathers such as Steve and the other folks over at Project Owlnet, who track owl population numbers, as well as their age and sex.

Saw-whet owls are the smallest owls on the East Coast of the U.S., and are about the the size of a robin and weigh just 3 ounces. These little predators migrate down from Canada at about this time every year. Many of them winter over on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where they jungle up during the day in thick evergreen foliage, often surprisingly close to the ground. Their evenings, of course, are spent feeding on white-footed deer mice, voles and shews.

The Saw-whet name comes from the fact that their call is supposed to sound like a saw blade being sharpened. To more modern ears, it sounds a bit like a delivery truck's backing-up beeper. Trapping is done with mist nets and electronic callers.

Other owls to be found in this area include the barn owl, eastern screech owl, great horned owl, barred owl, long-eared owl, short eared owl.

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2 comments:

Andrew Campbell said...

Great pic, Pat... and nice spotlight on the saw-whet owl. Had no idea they even existed. Will need to keep an ear out for the sounds of trucks backing up in the middle of the woods.

Andrew

proud father, Steve said...

In two nights' time I have netted 100 owls at my banding station on South Mountain in Maryland. 73 on Sunday night (10/28/07) alone! Of these, 9 wore bands from other locations (yet to be determined). Current season total is 154 saw-whets and 2 screech owls. As far as bird banding goes, saw-whet monitoring is very productive with its interstation encounters from over a hundred banding operations in North America. Will check in later in the season with further updates.