The Perfect Fluff Ball Night
Ok, let me cut to the chase! First net check and there she was the most beautiful fluff ball that I have ever seen!! I must admit that I had a feeling that this night would be good but I never expected this to be the best night in this banding stations history!
I really need to go back in time and tell you what is going on. For numerous nights the weather here in Allegany State Park has not been the best for my owl studies. The discussions with other owl banders from across the eastern United States have all been disappointed by the low numbers being captured. Some of the theories are that food supply is very good up in Canada and the owls just don’t need to migrate south this year. I guess we will never know until the season is over. Small banding stations like Allegany rely on good weather conditions to have a good owl night. If you look in some of my previous post, you will notice that I have been watching radar for good movements of birds. Tonight’s weather is almost perfect with very calm winds, clear sky, cold temperature and a waxing crescent moon. I believe that many of these birds were bottled up due to weather and just waiting for a night like tonight. Please check out this radar image from this evening to see the millions of birds that are moving south.
On my first check this hatching year female was just waiting to be banded. She was the most perfect owl and I took some pictures of her talons for a future blog!! After processing her and then with her release, I realized that it was almost time to head back up the hill for another check. As I turned the corner of one of the nets, I could see something up on the 8th trammel. Could that be leaves?? Nope, owl number 2 for the night!! It wasn’t until my fourth net check that I recaptured both previously banded owls from earlier in the evening! Not wanting to catch them for a 3rd time, I decided to take them a little further away so onward over to the Park Police station for a quick visit (they always enjoy seeing the birds being released). I was joined by one of my neighbors for the next net check (getting excited with all the owls being caught). It must have been his luck because we caught two more Saw-whet Owls. I quickly gave a banding demo after returning to the station and we laughed because one of my cats (Lazy) stood there looking through the window trying to figure out what we were doing.
My neighbor and I continue back up to the hill to check the nets once again! He said “did we catch another one”?? My comment was, “did we catch one?? we have three owls in the net”! You talk about things starting to get hectic!!! I just knew that there was no way that I would be going to bed any time soon and of course I need to be at work at 8am in the morning!
My record for the station was 5 birds on two occasions and I never expected to have banded 10 new birds with 13 total captures for the night! I kept the nets open until 3:30am and I am now off to bed. Please don’t mind any grammar errors; it’s been a long night!