Wednesday, October 22, 2008


With the high winds last night, we had no luck catching any saw-whets at any of the banding sites. The winds were howling at Small Valley but due to the geography of the area, the nets were not affected by the wind. The only owl of the night was a single red-morph Eastern Screech-Owl that we found in the nets during the first net check. I am always amazed at how bright red this morph is.

We don't get very many screech-owls so it is a fun challenge to age them. One thing we looked at last night was the outer primary covert (the feather my thumb is pointing at in the picture below). Because this screech-owl hatched this year (HY), the feather is strongly patterned. Older birds have a less obvious patterning on this feather. The screech-owl was the largest bird I have ever had to hold in the "bander's grip" (picture below) and it was actually too big for the bander to hold in this position.

Another feature we looked at was the age of the flight feathers. Under a blacklight, feathers of the same age turn uniformly pink. More about this effect in a later post, but basically since our screech-owl just hatched this year, all the feathers are the same age.

We ended up closing the nets an hour early because the wind was picking up and starting to blow the nets around as well as drop lots of leaves into the nets.

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