Glow Worms and Saw-whets in that order!
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.
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).
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.
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!