Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Northern Saw-whet Owls

This is the time of year when large numbers of Saw-whet Owls are moving through. Since they are nocturnal, we do not see them very often. However, bird banders do!

During the day they will roost in coniferous trees or dense tangles. They will even roost in deciduous trees in thicker areas. They are sometimes hard to spot while roosting.

Obviously they are active at night hunting for food and migrating.

This past Sunday night, Holiday Beach Banding Station apparently caught 70, a new record. The previous week, Long Point Bird Observatory set some new records with Old Cut banding 98 on the 11th, and 117 on the 12th. The Tip station banded 83 on the 12th.

So, there are many more around than you think!

They are quite approachable while roosting. Some try to winter in our area, and are found on Christmas Bird Counts or birding field trips. One usually tries to look for them in coniferous stands. On occasion, they will be found where there are no coniferous trees, as was the case on a Christmas Bird Count on Walpole Island. We found an owl in a fairly open deciduous forest.
Sometimes during the day, you can be alerted to the presence of an owl when small songbirds are noisy and agitated. The songbirds will congregate around a roosting owl. I have found several owls in this fashion.

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