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


Happy Halloween

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

Happy Halloween Everyone! It has been a decent owl banding season this year!

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. (more…)

The Owls Have Arrived

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

We caught our first of the year Northern Saw-whet Owl Saturday night! Been a slow start to their movement but I believe that is due to warmer temperatures and the bright moon shining down on the nets. Their numbers should be picking up in a week or two as soon as the moon starts rising later in the evening!

Yes . . . A Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl

This week Young Naturalist J was off from school (winter break) and once I learned the crew would be out trying to band Short-eared Owls . . . I just knew we had to go. Weather was a little iffy but the great banding team did a wonderful job getting everything set up! (more…)

Movement of Northern Saw-whet Owls

Vision by the moon
Northern Saw-whet Owl and the moon!

I am soo excited; I don’t know where to start. . . . ! Have you ever wondered where the bird you are looking at has been or where they are going? Previously I have discussed some interesting banding recoveries where I recorded two different Black-capped Chickadees who moved 3350 feet from their breeding territory to where they had been wintering (these were my own recaptured birds). I have also discussed on numerous occasions some exciting banding nights where I recaptured some foreign recaptured Northern Saw-whet Owls that had been previously banded by another bander. I am proud to announce that “today” I received a report that another bird bander recaptured one of my Northern Saw-whet Owl last fall (the first time this has ever happened to me, yah!!)!!

The Banding [part 2]

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owls amazing face pattern

Yesterday’s post was about the excitement of catching these two Short-eared Owls . . . Today I will be writing about the banding process, transmitter and releasing the owls (and a few cool photos). (more…)

Second Try! [Part 1]

SEOW flying
Short-eared Owl in flight

I have learned that if you first don’t succeed . . . . try, try again!! Yesterday Jennifer from A Passion for Nature and I decided to head up to Buffalo for another attempt at Short-eared Owl banding with State Biologist Chuck Rosenburg from the Department of Environmental Conservation. You might remember my last trip a few weeks ago with many great views and two “almost” catches!!! Although seeing these amazing birds flying around is fun . . . our primary mission was watching them being banded. The question is: will we catch something?? (more…)

My Irruption Northern Saw-whet Owl Year

Northern  Saw-whet Owl
First Northern Saw-whet Owl of the Season.

This year the Allegany State Park (Northern Saw-whet Owl) banding station was open for 28 nights and captured 83 different individuals with 90 total NSWO captures. We did not capture the hundreds of owls like the big migration sites but this stations numbers this season was significantly better than my previous three years of banding combined. The last two weeks in November resulted in very bad weather conditions (lake effect, strong winds and rain) which considerably reduced the number of net hours that the station typically operates. (more…)

Allegany by Moonlight

Administration Building At Night
The Administration Building.

You keep asking if my Owl season is over! The answer is No but . . . I have run into many reasons for needing to keep the station closed for the past two weeks. Which include fog, rain, high wind, snow, lake effect and tonight temps being around 20 degree F. If I was open this evening . . . . I would be battling the bright moon that is out (see photos). As much as I miss catching and banding these fluff balls . . . . their safety is our first priority. Maybe even with the bright moon tomorrow . . I can open some nets?? Till then I will be trying to get out to take some new pictures!

Trying to Break 80

Snow for Mary
Snow for Mary

Yesterday evening we had 6 more visitors (people) at the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station here in Allegany State Park. I was lucky to have Young Naturalist J here to help with banding the 5 owls we captured and he will continue to be around for tonight’s banding (if the weather allows). (more…)

Understanding the bird’s wing!

Osprey in flight (from March 2007)

Birds use the ability to fly for finding food, escaping from predators and even migrating to areas that can better support them when there are fewer resources available. Obviously their feathers are not permanent to their body and they need to replace their older (worn) feathers with new (sturdy) feathers. The molting (loosing and growing new feathers) patterns on the wing of the bird can help us banders understand the age of the bird (well sometimes). (more…)

Don’t Forget to Turns Your Clocks Back!

Photo by Young Naturalist J.

We had another busy night at the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station here in Allegany State Park. We had a fellow birdbander and 3 others from the Allegheny National Forest visit us this evening. They were able to see 2 of our Saw-whet Owls being banded and then be released (before heading home). We also had Sarah from Jamestown Audubon visit for most of the evening (and she was able to see 4 of the birds)! I tried to convince her to stay later but she needed to head home. I know that she made the right decision since we did not catch anything again until the wee hours of the night. It has been wonderful with so many visitors visiting the banding station this week. (more…)

Weekend Visitors

Saw-whet banding
Young Naturalist J glad to be banding again!!

We had more visitors at the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station this evening than owls! I need to high-five Grace 🙂 for helping locate our 70th bird of the season (in the mist net) and then allowing me to barrow a book that I need to read. Mike and Terry decided to head home early after banding our first 2 fluff balls (thanks for visiting). Grace left only minutes before we captured our 3rd bird and then recaptured the 2nd bird again (The owl must be net happy). (more…)

Little Visitors

Kids smiling for moms picture!

I had some smiling little visitors at the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station tonight. I expected a “big” night with North-West winds but was only able to banded 3 different individual owls. Not sure why the other evening I captured 4 individuals with southern winds?? I assume science will just keep us guessing with unexpected answers! At least our future birders were happy and of course they didn’t want to head home!! Dad promised they could come back again before the end of the season. (more…)

Upper Allegheny River Basin Workshop

I have been involved with a workshop sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for the past two days. They have brought together many scientist, universities, governmental partners and natural resource professionals to assist in putting together an in-depth conservation action plan for the Upper Allegheny River Basin. (more…)

Owls and other kinds of Owls!

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Another busy Owl night this evening!! Obviously looking at the photos . . . . I captured my first Barred Owl for the season!! Yes, I did get taloned on the finger by this bird but nothing too bad! 😦 (more…)

Daisy and Owls

Ox-eye Daisy

and this isn’t climate change? This evening I almost stepped on this Daisy while checking my nets for Saw-whet Owls! Sure put a smile on my face once I found it . . . . I figured why not blog it and make everyone else smile! (so use your 🙂 smile face in the comments) (more…)

Breaking 50

Blue Moon
Moon photo from 1999

The bright moon makes it hard to catch owls because they are able to see the mist-nets. Lucky we did have a few clouds when we first opened  this evening but ended up where I could check nets without needing my headlamp.  Yeck!  To my surprise . . . . I still happen to capture 4 Northern Saw-whet Owls tonight and my 4th bird was my 50th capture for the season!! YEAH!! Did I mention the perfect northern winds that we had?? I was pleased to have a few leaves left on the trees that created some shadows but I would have been bombarded with birds if this had been a new moon! grrr. . . .  I decided to closed everything up at 11pm because the moon was directly over my nets and plan to try to catch up with some sleep!!  I also figured 50 owls for the season was a great way to end my night! (more…)

Saw-whets . . . . did you expect anything else?

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Foreign Recaptured Saw-whet!

Last night I caught another 3 more Northern Saw-whet Owls. These three were not your average captures and defiantly kept me on my feet while banding them. The first bird was a foreign recapture (banded by someone else) that was originally banded in Pennsylvania last November (2006). I can’t wait to hear more from the Bird Banding Lab about whom and where this bird was first found. (more…)

More Visitors

Group Photo

This evening some staff and volunteers from Jamestown Audubon joined me to band some Northern Saw-whet Owls. First few net checks we had come up empty and just before they were about to leave we heard what I believed to be a Saw-whets vocalizing around the net! Of course I kept them past their bed time and they waited to see if we would end up catching an owl with our next check. (more…)

My Best Night Ever

Another Saw-whet Big Night
The cutest fluff ball of the night!

I am soo tired and need to head to bed (it has been a long night!)! I just had to tell you about the 17 birds I caught this evening! Without a doubt this was my best night ever for the Allegany State Park Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station!! Perfect North East winds . . . . did I say perfect everything for migration?? I need to be at work at 8am tomorrow . . . . so I guess to continue going till sunrise isn’t an option!! When I closed my nets I could still hear a few Saw-whets moving around and vocalizing!! I should have stayed open!!   Ugg (more…)

What an Owl Smells Like

smelling their head
Old picture of me teaching kids some bad habits

If you regularly follow this blog . . . . then you would know that I have an obsession with smelling the heads of woodpeckers.  The woodpeckers head have a pine-musty odor to them but for some reason the smell is very pleasurable to me (ya, I am nuts – I know already)!! This evening while studying the migration of the Northern Saw-whet Owls . . . . I had a quick whiff of that odor! Bet you can’t guess what I did next?? (more…)

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!). (more…)


Witch-hazel leaves & flowers

Witch-hazel is my favorite tree for many reasons. . . . It has always been a topic of discussion on if it is either a tree or a shrub?? My personal feeling is that this is more of a tree than a shrub but that is just my personal thought (no science behind that statement). I also love that this trees leaf is odd shaped and has some unique flowers. I can always find this tree flowering around mid October which I think is an excellent time of the year!! The greatest part of Witch-hazel is that people can extract an astringent from the bark and leaves that is used for things like; a hemorrhoid medication, shaving lotion, bug bites, acne cream and even helps with poison ivy! (more…)