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

Surprised Big Fluff Ball Night!

Don and NSWO
Don and a Fluff Ball

Saturday evening a fellow bird bander Don Watt and his family joined me for some Saw-whet Owl banding here in Allegany State Park. He is interested in starting his own owl banding station and joined me to get a better idea on how I am catching these tiny owls. I was happy to capture a Northern Saw-whet Owl for them just before they headed home (High Five!).

The Release
Releasing the Fluff Ball

Radar showed a rain shower breaking up over Lake Ontario and the winds were >10 mph coming from the West (which isn’t the best weather pattern that I am looking for). I almost closed my nets up around 11pm to head to bed early (happy with one bird) . . . . but a few things changed!! Winds were dieing down, skies cleared up and I suddenly started catching fluff balls!! I looked on Radar and birds were finally flying!!

nexrad 13 oct 2007 - 2
NEXRAD animation from Weather Underground.

I finally closed my nets at 3am and now ready to climb into bed (but posting this first). I ended up banding 8 Saw-whet Owls this evening and was very please since we started so slow!

Good night everyone and don’t let the bed bugs bite (or if you are reading this you are probably just waking up!)!!

17 responses

  1. They are the most photogenic of birds, I think.

    14 October 2007 at 6:32 am

  2. Marg

    Yup I’ve been up for awhile! Congrats on such a great owl night Tom-I’m always surprised how things can change so quickly!

    So is Don convinced in fluffballs now? 😀

    14 October 2007 at 6:44 am

  3. I can’t believe how tiny they are! So cool that you caught and banded so many. Congratulations!!

    14 October 2007 at 7:32 am

  4. Wow you really get an idea how small they are with Don holding one. yea you caught quite a few there. Hope you get caught up on your sleep.

    14 October 2007 at 8:08 am

  5. Wow Tom! Eight owls, that is so cool! What is your record for saw-whet owls in one night?

    14 October 2007 at 8:32 am

  6. Wow! 8!

    What kind of habitat do you set up in?


    14 October 2007 at 9:25 am

  7. @ threecollie – without a doubt, thanks!
    @ Marg – I could have had you continue the banding till sunrise!! I know he wants to try!
    @ jayne – This one was fluffed out and the males can get even smaller! Think of them as the size of a pop can.
    @ Toni – I slept in till after 10 this morning! Although I think I might need another nap before tonights North Western Winds!
    @ Pam – thanks and last year twice I caught 13 birds in one night! But, do note that out of those 13 were only 10 newly banded birds. Others were previous night captures, etc.. soo 13 or 10 depending on how you look at it!
    @ Nick- thanks it involved more than habitat in catching these guys! Some people will set up nets in their back yards in the middle of the city (and still catch them)! It’s more about the speakers, elevation, etc… I have this is mixed deciduous-confer forest but to be honest its more of a beech-maple forest with a few hemlocks mixed in.

    14 October 2007 at 11:41 am

  8. Congratulations! A wonderful birthday gift.

    14 October 2007 at 12:56 pm

  9. I am so happy you got to band 8 owls. That is wonderful. And teaching other people to do it must be fun for you to. You seem like a natural teacher. ~nita~

    14 October 2007 at 4:01 pm

  10. Saw-Whets are awesome!! You have one of the coolest jobs, Mon@rch!!

    14 October 2007 at 4:50 pm

  11. High five, indeed! I want to work with you instead of in a warehouse…sigh…

    14 October 2007 at 7:19 pm

  12. They are so pretty and cute! You amaze me when it comes to knowing migration and weather patterns. Like Trixie said, I’d rather work with you.

    You could probably sleep for 24 hours straight.

    14 October 2007 at 10:25 pm

  13. The eyes on these are owls are so amazing, must be incredible to hold them Tom.

    15 October 2007 at 4:26 am

  14. Such beautiful birds – I just contacted my ‘source’ at the local hot spot to find out if I might be able to do some night searching for them…

    15 October 2007 at 12:59 pm

  15. @ Barb – thanks and it was!
    @ Nita – my numbers are getting up their for sure! Thanks
    @ Birdfreak – thanks and I wouldn’t call this my day job!
    @ Trixie – High Five back at ya! Anytime you want but I can pay you twice of what I pay myself! 2X$0 = $0 Is that enough to pay your bills?
    @ mary – I am still learning these things myself! Thanks though! Would be happy to have your help and would be happy to pay you the same as Trixie!
    @ Bernie – thanks and I two love their eye colors!
    @ Marty – thanks and I would have to bet that you could even find these guys in yoru back yard! Just the neighbors probably wouldn’t like the loud speakers that I am using!

    15 October 2007 at 5:05 pm

  16. Aw, Tom, those little saw-whets are just the cutest thing! Are they usually pretty laid back, or fiesty when you’re holding them? Are their little talons pretty sharp? I notice you guys usually aren’t wearing gloves on the pictures.

    15 October 2007 at 7:51 pm

  17. @ Ruthie – they are small birds and the safety of the birds are our number 1 priority (not my hand). Wearing gloves makes it so we can’t feel their movement or if maybe we are holding to tight, etc.. With the big raptors I also don’t use any gloves for that reason! But they are very laid back owls (sometimes)! thanks

    16 October 2007 at 10:09 am

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