My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Glow Worms and Saw-whets in that order!

Lighting Bug Larva
Glow Worm (Lighting Bug Larva)

Last night (9th October) was another successful evening with my Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Project here in Allegany State Park. I opened the nets just after dusk and then headed out for my first net check at 8pm. I had hoped for some owls but was more dazzled by the number of lighting bug (or firefly) larva that I found moving along the ground.

Glow Worm Lighting Bug
The Side and Top View of the Glow Worm

I have many wonderful childhood memories of chasing lighting bugs around my yard and placing them in bottles, etc. . . . I can even remember the time letting them fly free inside the house and my mother getting a tad bit angry at me (remember that mom?)!! The lighting bugs that I found last evening were the larva (aka Glow Worms) of those adults, which were wondering around the grass and roads looking for food. They are excellent predators feeding on other bugs, sometimes worms, slugs and snails that they encounter. There are numerous species of Lighting Bug that can be found in this area and I enjoyed spotlighting them (then they would flash me back with their light).

Northern Saw-whet Owl mist netted

The Saw-whet Owls waiting to be extracted from the Mist Net

I wanted to use this above Saw-whet Owl photo from Monday’s bird to tell you about my great evening with my Saw-whets. On the 8:45 pm net check I had 2 fluff balls in the net at the same time. I was soo excited, I quickly come off the hill . . . . skipping over all the glow worms and began banding these cuties. The first owl was laid back and very cooperative (quickly released and exactly how the banding should be done). Although the second bird was very full of spunk and well . . . . my fingers are still sore from that banding session! I was very pleased to say “goodbye and go find another bander south of here to talon”. Finding two birds in one check is very exciting but realistically my luck used in one basked would probably result in nothing else for the rest of the night. Then during my 11:00 pm net check I had started to question if I should close or not . . . . but guess what!!!! I had another saw-whet in net C!!!! Holy Cow!! My 3rd owl of the evening make this an excellent night for my station!! I ended up closing the nets sometime after midnight. Without a doubt the movement of Saw-whets has officially started in my area and this radar images below shows how massive the movement of birds (all species) were last night.

front usa 9 oct 2007
Click on the clip to see the animation.

Yes, the majority of the green spots showing up after 8:30 (on the east coast) and 9:30 (on the central United States) are birds moving south. Isn’t that just amazing??

I am not banding this evening due to some light rain, strong winds and I really need to catch up with my sleep. But, it does looks like some North West winds tomorrow evening but they are also predicting 50/50 chance of rain! Cross your fingers . . . . it could potentially be an excellent night!

27 responses

  1. Crossing my fingers for you, Tom! Three owls in one night – very cool. Except the feisty one! Hope you’re not too sore! Cool migration map! Wow!
    Ahhh, lightning bugs! We used to catch them in jars and bring them into our rooms in the dark to watch the show inside. Fun times!

    10 October 2007 at 9:51 pm

  2. Glow worms and saw-whets… who could ask for more? Very nice!

    10 October 2007 at 9:56 pm

  3. Cool shots Tom, I am just freaked out by the radar image, how many birds do you think are migrating thru at this time. I know it is probably hard to gauge but do you have a rough estimate?

    10 October 2007 at 10:18 pm

  4. Wow! I’ve never seen lightning bug larva, they’re really neat! Thanks for showing them. Three owls, lucky ducky! According to your beautiful radar, they were in my area too last night!

    10 October 2007 at 10:36 pm

  5. Marg

    Richard says when do you want us there?

    Congrats again-I was reading the Prince Edward Observatory tallies and they are more this year than all previous years!

    10 October 2007 at 10:38 pm

  6. Great photo of the saw-whet.

    10 October 2007 at 10:42 pm

  7. That saw whet looks angry! Was that the one that hurt your hand?

    I couldn’t blame you a bit if you skipped visiting my blog till next Tuesday, what with that eyesore on there I can barely look at it myself.

    10 October 2007 at 10:49 pm

  8. That Saw-whet looks quite irritated.
    You sure do have some fun.

    10 October 2007 at 11:08 pm

  9. Your photos are amazing! And these owls are adorable! I’m learning so much through your blog! I think it’s cool that you have a young friend who enjoys birding with you, too. When my sisters and I were his age, our parents used to take us to a bird banding station each week. Our favorite thing was seeing how the great horned owl could turn its head almost a full 360 degrees!

    10 October 2007 at 11:18 pm

  10. @ Pam – thanks and my 3 owl night was great for this station. But did you let them go to fly around the house?
    @ Mike – thanks and 4 saw-whets would have been better but I am trying not to be too picky!
    @ Bernie – thanks and not sure if I could even estimate in the billions of birds recorded moving in that image. Clemson University might be able to answer those questions better!~
    @ Chicago – I guess I have found them before and might even have photographed them in the spring when doing salamanders. But do note that image is of all birds, maybe some bats on the move. Can’t really pinpoint which is which species but I do believe you have many more saw-whets in your area than you would believe.
    @ Marg – LOL , I am open till November! When you thinking?
    @ John – thanks
    @ Barb – most all are very laid back and this photo was from the same bird yesterday! Poor thing had the whole photoshoot done. Only photos I took yesterday of the birds were of it’s wing molt pattern. BTW: Will continue to visit your blog but expect to hear ugg comments regarding the sox logo you placed on their! Well, I am just visiting to laugh because I would never make such a bet!
    @ Toni – owls are owls and this one (which was the female) appeared to be focused on something. Really they are very laid back behavior of all the owls we have. I guess being a predator you at times need to look that way before eating bugs, birds or even mice that it finds. To me they just look so darn cute!
    @ Rondi – thanks and welcome to my blog! Glad you are learning and so glad that your family started enjoying nature at such a young age.

    10 October 2007 at 11:25 pm

  11. It is amazing that there were that many birds were moving south last night. That owl looks like it could take a finger off with its beak. I have never seen glow worm larva either. I like the bugs after they have changed much better. I bet those bugs are glad you skipped over them instead of danced on them. ha ha ~nita~

    10 October 2007 at 11:31 pm

  12. If you squint, that saw-whet looks like its diving intently on some unsuspecting prey. Also, I’ve never seen a glow-worm in the light, that was cool. Really cool stuff.

    ~ Nick

    11 October 2007 at 8:41 am

  13. That photo of the owl made me catch my breath. Awesome! I have never seen a glow worm though. Must not get out enough at night.

    11 October 2007 at 9:08 am

  14. When I first saw your saw-whet photo I didn’t see the mist net, and I thought you’d taken the photo as the bird was diving in. Then I saw the net–a great shot! I love those little cuties.

    Carolyn H.

    11 October 2007 at 9:17 am

  15. Are you serious: glow worms=lightening bugs? Of course, it makes sense–bugs have larval forms, but I have never seen the larval form of lightening bugs.
    Love the owl photo, too. Especially those intense eyes.

    11 October 2007 at 10:06 am

  16. WOW. That owl picture is so cool. Great job.

    11 October 2007 at 1:07 pm

  17. I’d be skipping over larvae, too! I laughed at your comment to the spunky one. That map is very interesting. The birds are moving but I haven’t seen much action here. We had a cold front move in last night. It’s 65 degrees today!

    11 October 2007 at 1:28 pm

  18. Kaz

    I swear… I wish I lived in your front shirt pocket, then I’d see all the coolest stuff first hand!

    11 October 2007 at 3:10 pm

  19. The photo of that one in the net is amazing. And seeing the migration on the radar is just simply fascinating. I’ll be on the lookout here in north GA for some visitors I don’t regularly see!

    11 October 2007 at 4:00 pm

  20. Wow glow worms a Northern Saw-whet Owls. The last time I saw one of those was a long time ago.

    11 October 2007 at 7:13 pm

  21. @ nita – thanks and these guys are the size of a pop can. LOL!
    @ Nick – almost as if the birds are caught in time! Hey you ever get out to Tom’s NSWO station at the lab?
    @ threecollie – love being out at night! So many great things we get to see/hear!
    @ Carolyn – thanks and if I wanted I could photoshop those nets out!
    @ KGMom – LOL, they sure do have larval forms, just think in terms of the monarch butterfly and their caterpillar! Thanks
    @ abarclay12 – thanks for your kind words!
    @ Mary – thanks and even with warm temps those warblers could be moving through your area!
    @ Kaz – thanks and I wonder where all my money ends up disappearing to! I thought it was the grocery store!
    @ Jayne – thanks and keep your eyes open for sure!
    @ Samuel – thanks and maybe you can find some here soon!

    11 October 2007 at 8:16 pm

  22. No, I haven’t been to Tom and Harvey’s station yet. I should get around to asking them.

    11 October 2007 at 9:55 pm

  23. Ok, I’m here at 10:19 for your October 11 post because I’m tired of coming in last. But you are probably sleeping. Maybe I’ll be first next time.

    11 October 2007 at 10:21 pm

  24. @ Nick – I probably should email him to see how he’s doing? Birds seem to be moving through the area now and other stations are doing wonderful!
    @ Mary – I see that and sorry that I decided not to post anything tonight! I didn’t really have much to say except, yep caught one owl tonight (that gets old after a while)! Nets are still open (going to bed?? I am not allowed to do that this time of the year!!) and hope to catch a few more! I hope tomorrows post should be an interesting one! Well, Saturday’s should be good also! Thanks for visiting though!

    11 October 2007 at 10:30 pm

  25. Wow Tom, I bet it’s so neat to be able to hold those little owls (even though they obviously don’t share your enthusiasm). Now I’ll have to pay closer attention when I’m out on my deer stand. What is their ideal habitat? Forests? Deciduous or evergreen, or no preference? And they’re even smaller than a screech owl, right?
    Thanks for sharing your great story and pictures.

    12 October 2007 at 10:40 pm

  26. do they glow as “worms” too, or only when bigger?

    13 October 2007 at 11:47 pm

  27. @ Ruthie – thanks and they hurt! No they really hurt sometimes! LOL but you can many times find them in pines!
    @ Blueraindrop – the larva and adults both glow! Thanks!

    14 October 2007 at 12:23 pm

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