Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding

Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding 2018
This ymain-nswo-pictureear we will once again welcome visitors to our Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station at the MRBO office in Arrow Rock.  Visitors of all ages are encouraged to attend.  We will post regularly on the MRBO Facebook page ( about which nights the station is open. You are able to see these posts by clicking on this link even if you are not on facebook. Please check our posts before making the trip to Arrow Rock.  You can also call 660-837-3888 to ask if we will be open on a particular night.  If you are coming from a far distance, you may want to stay in Arrow Rock; there is a list of our town’s Bed & Breakfasts here:  

Some important details:
Season: The 2018 owl banding season will run from approximately October 27th until mid-November. Right now it is looking like our last banding date is Nov. 12th, but we may add more dates if we continue to catch owls.  Note that we do not operate every night during this time period; we open the station on nights of fair weather with light north winds, which we have found to be the best conditions for catching owls successfully.  Our frequent Facebook posts will keep you informed. 

Time: Owl banding takes place in the evening as that is when the owls are active. We open nets 40 minutes after sunset.  This means the station operates about 7 to 11 pm. We check the nets approximately every 40 minutes. Therefore our first chance to have an owl is about 7:45 pm then 8:30, 9:15, 10:00 and 10:45 is our last run. That being said, there is no need to arrive before 7:30 pm as it can be chilly to wait until we start!  You are free to come and go as you please during the 7:30-11 time period.  Please note that after Daylight Savings Time takes effect the morning of November 4th, sunset is an hour earlier, so we will begin opening closer to 6 pm and stay open until 10 pm. 

Where: Our owl banding station is at our office in Arrow Rock, MO. The address that Google will recognize is 39250 Hwy 41, Nelson, MO 65347.
We band the owls in an outbuilding called the Chicken Coop! So when you arrive you should enter into the small white building in front of the house close to where you will park. We will have signs directing you into our driveway, but they can be difficult to see in the dark. Our gravel driveway is located on the same side of the road as the large Arrow Rock State Historic Site Visitors Center sign. The sign points to the paved visitors center driveway but that is the opposite way. Our driveway is located about 20 ft west of the sign on Hwy 41. 

Parking: You are free to park along the side of the circular part of our gravel driveway or in the yard near the old shed (our vehicles are typically parked in this area for reference). If this seems confusing it will be clear once you arrive. 

Dress for the Weather: The coop is not heated so make sure to dress to stay warm in the weather! This typically means warm boots, winter coat, hat and gloves.  

Net visitation rules: We do not allow visitors to come to the nets with MRBO staff.  The fewer people surrounding an owl that is tangled in a net, the less stressful for the bird (and the person removing it from the net).  Visitors are welcome to help us release the owls after they have been banded.  

Is there a best date to come visit?
Below are the results from our 2016 and 2017 Saw-whet Owl banding in Arrow Rock.  You can see that the capture rates vary markedly between seasons and even between consecutive days! 

Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding 2017
Last fall, MRBO’s Northern Saw-whet Owl banding station in Arrow Rock was open for 18 nights from October 22nd to November 15th.  We hosted about 60 visitors from October 25th to November 12th.  Below are the results from the 2017 season.  

October 22nd – No owls
October 24th – 1 owl
October 25th – 3 owls
October 27th – No owls
October 28th – 1 owl
October 29th – 2 owls
October 30th – 1 owl
October 31st – No owls
November 2nd – 1 owl
November 3rd – No owls
November 5th – 2 owls
November 6th – 4 owls
November 7th – 4 owls
November 8th – 3 owls + 1 foreign recovery from Minnesota
November 9th – 2 owls
November 10th – 1 owl
November 12th – 1 owl
November 15th – 4 owls
Total = 29 new + 1 foreign recovery

Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding 2016
In 2016, MRBO’s Arrow Rock station was open for 11 nights from October 30th to November 15th.  We hosted 131 visitors from October 30th to November 10th.  Below are the results from the 2016 season.  

October 30th – 14 owls
November 3rd – 6 owls
November 4th – 9 owls
November 5th – 2 owls
November 6th – 6 owls
November 8th – 1 owl
November 9th – 6 owls
November 10th – 1 owl + 1 within-season recapture
November 13th – 2 owls + 1 within-season recapture
November 14th – 3 owls
November 15th – 1 owl
Total = 51 owls + 2 within-season recaptures


Northern Saw-whet Owl captured on October 30th; photo by Steve Garr.