Since our last blog post we have finally had some movement. Between the nights of September 26 and October 3rd we managed 4 Northern Saw-whet Owls and the seasons 1st Barred Owl. The weather was definitely working against us for this week.
However on the night of October 6th, the stars aligned and we were treated with some wonderful north winds. With these winds came the birds. One of the magical things about owl banding at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory is the diversity of species that can be found here. On this night in particular, we were able to band 4 different species of owls.
On our first check of the night, we were treated to this Barred Owl:
While these guys aren’t super common at the point, they are not unexpected visitors in the fall and it is always a treat to have them in the lab.
On our second check of the night, we were treated to our first Long-eared Owl of the season.
While this is one of our target species here at the point, they are much more prevalent during the spring and summer banding seasons. It was nice to finally have this female in the lab.
After the first two birds, we were gearing up for a potentially good night and the Northern Saw-whet Owls did not disappoint. On our third check of the night, they started moving and we had our first big push of the season. In total we were able to band 21 Northern Saw-whet Owls throughout the night.
Finally, around midnight, our biggest surprise of the night showed up when we banded this Boreal Owl:
This is a high arctic species of owl. While they have been banded at the point before, their numbers have been declining in recent years. It is not uncommon to go several seasons without banding this species. We were very surprised to find this one on our net checks. Since that time we have been able to band one more Boreal Owl bringing our season total up to 2. Is this a sign that they are moving farther south this winter or were these two birds a fluke? I guess time will only tell as too wether or not we get to see more of these guys this season.
Like I stated earlier, it is the diversity of Whitefish Point that makes it such a magical place. Zach and I are very thankful that we got to see a little bit of what this place has to offer on this night.
As always visiting hours are Friday and Saturday night dusk to midnight. The weather for this weekend looks a little rough as there is a big storm front headed our way.
Northern Saw-whet Owl – 62
Long-eared Owl – 2
Barred Owl – 3
Boreal Owl – 2
Total Owls banded: 69
-Tori Steely and Zach Wilkinson