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

Northern Saw-whet Owls Report for 2008

Saying So Long for Another Season

This year the Allegany State Park (Northern Saw-whet Owl) banding station was open for 15 nights and captured 26 different individuals (not including 1 Barred Owl). We didn’t capture as many owls per day like we did last season but the number of days we could open the station was reduced due to weather conditions.




Unkown Sex

Hatch Year

After Hatch Year




































The percentage of captured males, female, and unknown sexes were fairly consistent with the 4 previous year’s percentages. The significant changes in my numbers were with 8% of hatch year birds and 92% of adult birds captured (consistently these numbers have been different). Last year the numbers showed the higher percentage (70%) of hatch year Northern Saw-whet Owls who had a better success rate with their young and this year (8%) Owls who had a very poor time raising their young. What is interesting was that 25% of those adult birds were classed as after second year birds (born more than 2 years ago) and the other 75% being second year birds (born last year). This would be expected since so many hatch year birds were born last season and helps enforces that the success rate for last years young was very good. It would be interesting to finally see the age percentages from other stations compared to mine.

Kyle extracting the fluffball from the net!

The peak banding nights where I captured the most number of birds had been on the 3oth October with 7 individuals and the 31st of October with 6 individuals (one of those six had been first captured the previous weekend). Most other banding nights only had a few birds captured each night but it had been nice that most nights something had been captured.

Difference is 39miles between the two banding sites!

Part of being involved with Project Owlnet is that it allows us banders to network and share our knowledge with other Northern Saw-whet Owl banders across Northern America. We are then able to look for unique differences or similarities throughout each of the stations by using similar protocols. On occasion we capture foreign owls that were originally banded by another bander and after reporting these finds to the Bird Banding Lab, we can quickly connect the original origin through this network. This season we were able to capture 2 foreign recaptured birds and although they were almost a month apart, they both had originated from a good friend’s banding station only 39 miles away. It is great to know that we have a flight path going between stations.

Location of all my recaptures between 2004-2008.

I would like to thank my banding assistants like Young Naturalist J, Young Naturalist C, Kyle, Jennifer and numerous other volunteers which assisted me with the banding operations. We had many organized groups/students from Jamestown Audubon, Jamestown Community College and Canisius College who also visited on numerous occasions to the banding station. The next Northern Saw-whet Owl banding is being scheduled to start again here in Allegany State Park on the 1st of October 2009. Thanks again to everyone who helped support this project.

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16 responses

  1. Tom–what a fascinating post. And I am once again grateful that someone so caring as you is involved in this work. I am thrilled that you teach so many young peope to care also, and how to band the birds.
    Finally, I love the photos of the owls. Especially the one with eyes shut tight while being extracted from the net.

    10 January 2009 at 10:34 pm

  2. Barbara

    That photo of the Northern Saw-whet is gorgeous! The eyes are piercing in a lovely way – the colors and contrast compliment each other perfectly.
    Nice capture!

    10 January 2009 at 10:45 pm

  3. Nice to see you around! The weather has been a bit rough lately, but we must count our blessings, as it has not been nearly as bad as before.

    10 January 2009 at 11:19 pm

  4. Tom,
    I always appreciate the knowledge you share–but this time, too, really understand the time you put into these banding operations,
    Gaining information for a wider audience–the world.

    11 January 2009 at 7:41 am

  5. Fascinating data. Amazing to think that owls travel around that much.

    11 January 2009 at 11:06 am

  6. Hey Mon@rch,

    Awesome post. Do you know of any Saw Whet Owl banders in NJ? I’d love to volunteer. Please email me or drop me a note on my blog.



    11 January 2009 at 3:09 pm

  7. NatureShutterbug

    What a beautiful owl. 2007 looked like a good year.

    11 January 2009 at 4:55 pm

  8. Labor of love, for sure. You work hard and we appreciate you! Especially when you encourage youth… that’s real important for our future.


    11 January 2009 at 8:31 pm

  9. Mel

    Great job!
    I am a fan of the young naturalists!! They will do great things in the near future.
    Hugs for all from Peru!

    11 January 2009 at 9:57 pm

  10. I love your RADAR! So cool to have a perspective of the different stations.
    That Saw Whet doesn’t look too happy in the hands of his bander…I hope he understands later…it’s all for good!

    11 January 2009 at 9:58 pm

  11. Great post. There is so much to learn. Those Saw Whet owls are just too cute. I have never seen one in person except for the stuffed one at a museum. Maybe this year I’ll get a chance to see one.

    12 January 2009 at 1:24 am

  12. Pam

    Wow, two posts in a row! Great post, Tom. I love the first photo.

    12 January 2009 at 9:26 am

  13. Luis M.

    Ah, this is what I missed about this blog! Another great read accompanied by nice photos 🙂

    I’m so fascinated by owls, I just wish I could acually see them in the wild, hehe. I’ll keep lookin’!

    12 January 2009 at 10:31 am

  14. Diana

    Love your website. Beautiful photos! For those of us who love nature and owls, but are not as knowledgeable as yourself, can you provide some insight as to how the owls are “captured” for banding? Is it similar to the banding stations of smaller “day time” birds?

    12 January 2009 at 10:46 am

  15. Grace

    I wonder if the Saw Whets go through a cycle of high and low populations like some avian predators? A few more years of records might tell the story.

    13 January 2009 at 10:59 pm

  16. @ KGMom – thanks and it is fun to be sharing with everyone again!
    @ Barb – thanks and you are very kind!
    @ Scienceguy – Its nice in some ways to have our older winters back but I was starting to enjoy calm winters! What I hate is the deep cold temps!
    @ Nina – thanks . . blush!
    @ Liza – thanks and migration is amazing!
    @ Hey Owlman – there are some banders out in NJ . . although I don’t know any of their names off hand! Cape May might be a good place to start!
    @ NatureShutterbug – thanks and 2007 was my best year for sure!
    @ Mary – Thanks and I do always enjoy your kind comments!
    @ Mel – LOL, I do also and what is ever better is that they do much of the work for me . . makes my job EZer!
    @ Letspaintnature – Thanks and I think the bird blinked from the flash . . the Saw-whets are actually very laid back birds to work with! I just used that photo because it was the only shot I had of Kyle handling the birds!
    @ Linda – they are the most adorable little things you could have ever seen!
    @ Pam – LOL . . great to shock you! 🙂
    @ Luis – Thanks and you are too kind!
    @ Diana – Thanks! We do run our banding operation kinda similar to the songbird banding. Some of my older post from last season show the details that go into banding the owls! I do strongly suggest you look back at them!
    @ Grace – For sure they do! There is many records showing all this from other stations!

    14 January 2009 at 11:14 pm

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