Creeping up on Owls

By Dana Ripper

Photo from Pat Perry

I am pleased to report that in the weeks since our last blog (sorry it’s been so long!), we have banded more than 200 birds as part of the Backyard Banding project.  This citizen science program has undergone rapid improvements lately – several people have turned in months of color-band re-sight data, and we are about to get a personalized data entry system on-line.  These data will help us track longevity and return rates of Missouri’s winter birds.

I just wanted to share a couple of the highlights of the past few weeks.  One of these was the capture of three Brown Creepers at a banding demonstration in Arrow Rock.  Many townsfolk turned out for this extremely pleasant Sunday afternoon event.  We caught another Brown Creeper recently during a fun banding demonstration for the Meramec Hills Master Naturalists near Rolla.  The Brown Creeper is amongst the most beautiful, subtly-colored species that we have the pleasure of handling.

Photo from Jack Spicer

And speaking of beautiful and subtle…it appears that Northern Saw-whet Owls, despite the warm winter and the late date, are still hanging out in the Missouri Ozarks.  Last night we captured three in Benton County!  This occurred at the residence of some Hi-Lonesome Master Naturalists at which we caught nine owls on November 10th, 2010, and none on February 16th, 2011.  Given this rather extreme variability in our last two attempts, we weren’t sure what to expect – but the little owls did not disappoint.

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