December 14th – 70…71…72!

#70 – an older female caught on December 1st. -MMG

It’s been an interesting Fall migration, especially so for Northern Saw-whet Owls in our area. Last year Marnie banded into December and ended up banding a total of 38 owls for the season. The last one was banded on November 19th. This season they just seemed to keep on coming. She banded an older female on December 1st and two young females, one on December 6th and another on the 10th. It would be interesting to see if these late birds spend the Winter in the immediate area or whether they are still on their way south. The woodlot associated with Duncan’s farm on Irish Line (which he shares with a couple of other farms) is fairly small, 10.5 hectares and is mostly hardwoods. On the one hand it is proving to be very important for migrating owls; on the other, it may be a wintering spot for some of them. Losing woodlots, even small ones, to development is very concerning.

Gaps in wing flourescence indicate that #70 is indeed an older owl. -MMG

Duncan’s cousin Ian with #72. Ian is a visitor from away…but a lucky visitor as he has managed to experience 7 owls in his 2 visits. -MMG

And in the meantime:
We are patiently (somewhat) waiting for Snow Buntings to arrive. The snow a few days back, associated with below freezing temperatures certainly raised my hopes. I checked my bait site at the York Airport and saw a flock of at least 35 Horned Larks. As I’ve written many times before, Horned Larks arrive first. It’s important to entice them with the cut corn so that they’ll stay around and bring the Snow Buntings to the bait site. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any there today but….I’m pretty sure they’re in the area because the corn needed to be replenished. Keep your fingers crossed for a “white Christmas”.

It’s pretty quiet at the Hurkman’s Farm site (except for a sizeable group of Black-capped Chickadees that are working the sunflower feeder over and another group of American Tree Sparrows that are in the shrubs along the laneway). This was the first day that the large pond was completely frozen over. Granted, in some places it was very thin shell ice, but it was covered. The thicker ice will work its way out from the shorelines and if the low temperatures hold it won’t be too long before you can walk across it.

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