I had a feeling that the strong northwest winds on Friday, which produced heavy flights of Canada geese and hawks during the day, foretold good things for our banding crews. And sure enough, the winds fell to a frosty calm after dark, producing perfect conditions.
At King's Gap, Aura Stauffer's crew banded four new saw-whets, while at Hidden Valley, Jan Getgood and her crew had eight more NSWOs and a single red-morph eastern screech-owl (EASO). We usually catch a few screech-owls each season, more by accident than anything else, and while they're an interesting change of pace, the banders don't especially like them; unlike well-behaved saw-whets, the EASOs usually defecate freely and repeatedly while being handled, probably as a way of deterring predators. The stuff is slimy, brown and very smelly. "I had three layers of screech owl crap on me," Jan complained in her report.
That brings us to 27 saw-whets for the season. Tonight should be another great night, but unfortunately, two of our sites will be closed -- Small Valley because Girl Scouts are using the camp this weekend, and King's Gap because there's a wedding and reception on the property.
Aura and KG site coordinator Gary Shimmel will be out today looking for Autumn and Fairfield, the two newest telemetry owls. More news as we get it.