We certainly were not spared from the recent heat wave many of you have likely also been suffering from. The weather produced some impressive storms out over Lake Superior and Whitefish Bay that produced absolutely amazing lighting shows (photo below). It also gave us a couple of nights off recently. We did find out that the banded adult Saw-whet that we mentioned in our last post was banded as a nestling last June in Quebec! It's always exciting to catch a banded bird, but it's very rare for us to catch an owl that was banded at its nest. It is the first time we have ever captured one here at WPBO. We'd be even more excited to catch a juvenile that was banded at the nest this year.
This season's results have been a bit mixed so far. With 82 banded so far, it is our best summer season yet for adult Saw-whets. The juveniles are hard to figure out this season. They have been very steady with at least one being banded on all but two of the nights we've been able to open. However, they have been occurring in low numbers. With two hours left in the night we've banded 11 juveniles and two adults tonight. This is the first night that we've had double digit juveniles, renewing our hope that they are just a little bit late this summer. We're now up to 55 juveniles for the season and hopefully they will start arriving in larger numbers soon.
There was a comment on one of our posts asking how many we typically band in a night. That has really varied from summer to summer. Early in July we mainly catch adult Saw-whets. A good night for adults is generally in the teens. Then some time in mid-July the adult numbers drop and juvenile numbers increase. The number of juveniles banded in a summer has varied greatly from year to year. We banded over 500 in 2007, but just 60 in 2008. In a good year, during their peak period a good night for juveniles has been 30-50. We honestly don't know what the rest of the summer has in store, but hopefully we will start seeing more double digit nights and maybe even get some nights of over 30 juveniles. Only time will tell.
We don't see a whole lot of variation in the juvenal plumage, but there is some. The bird on the left is particulrly black and the one on the right has more reddish tones.
This juvenile Saw-whet has molted in more of its adult facial disc feathers than any we've seen so far this summer.
Chris Neri & Nova Mackentley