December 1st – Lost In The Shuffle

There’s an old adage that goes: “If you want something done, give it do a busy man to do.” I’ve found this almost always to be true….unless the “busy man” is REALLY busy in which case it might not get done. And this is the case with the following posts by Ashley covering the end of October at the Lowville banding site. Dear old Jeff was extremely busy and they got lost in the shuffle…and I was out at sea. So here they are:

We had a lovely late fall day on October 18th. The weather was fantastic
and with quite a few birds caught (59) as well as a good diversity of
species, especially for this late in the season. We also saw a lot of
interesting birds (that we didn’t catch), including a flock of Purple
Finches, a Northern Shrike, and a migrating Red-shouldered Hawk!

Winter Wren -AMJ

Tennessee Warbler.. starting to get late for most warblers
and this will likely be one of the last we catch of this species. -AMJ

Can you see the warm chestnut brown iris color on this
White-throated Sparrow? This is a great example of the eye color of an
older sparrow (After-hatch-year), which is one of the clues we use to
figure out a bird’s age. Younger (hatch-year) White-throated Sparrows
often have a cooler more grayish brown iris color. -AMJ

Birds aren’t the only thing we caught today.. this Green
Darner was caught in the net (and released no worse for wear). -AMJ

These pretty little salamanders are present on the hillside
just behind our banding site. -AMJ

Banded at Lowville:
1 Winter Wren
6 Golden-crowned Kinglet
14 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
4 Swainson’s Thrush
1 American Robin
1 Gray Catbird
1 Tennessee Warbler
3 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
2 Northern Cardinal
2 Song Sparrow
9 White-throated Sparrow
1 White-crowned Sparrow

3 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Carolina Wren
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush
3 Song Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrow


We caught 11 owls on the night of Oct 18-19, and then had a fantastic
night on Oct 22-23, when we caught 23 Northern Saw-whet Owls!! We had
quite a few visitors and everyone was in awe of these tiny owls. On
the night of the 18th we caught an owl that already had a band.. we
now know that owl was originally banded at Holiday Beach (ON) all the
way back in 2018, meaning the bird is 4 years old!

This gorgeous Northern Saw-whet Owl almost looks like she’s
posing for the camera. -AMJ

This Northern Saw-whet Owl we recaptured shows three distinct
generations (or ages) of feathers which tells us it is at least 3 yrs
old (after-second-year). However, we actually know the exact age from
the recapture data from Holiday Beach where it was originally banded.
This owl is 4 yrs old! -AMJ

We had quite a few guests this evening, and among those some
of our youth volunteers; Liam, Renessa and Aliya helped with banding
owls. Here’s Aliya with her first owl!

October 23:

The 23rd was a crisp late fall morning that definitely required quite
a few extra layers of clothing (about 4 C at sunrise). Catherine and I
were joined by Sam, Eila, and Nola. It turned out to be the morning
of the Golden-crowned Kinglet, making up more than half the total
birds we caught!

Female Golden-crowned Kinglet; so many of these birds around
today! -AMJ

Hermit Thrush -AMJ

Swamp Sparrow -AMJ

19 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Swamp Sparrow
4 Slate-colored Junco

4 Black-capped Chickadee
1 White-throated Sparrow


What an amazing night we had on the 27th! Everything aligned perfectly, resulting in some phenomenal owl banding. The previous week had been very rainy with unfavorable (south) winds. When the rain finally stopped, the wind also shifted to Northeast, so not only was it great conditions for birds to migrate but it’s also possible that lots of owls had been held up from migrating the previous week; most birds don’t like to fly in rain, but this is particularly true for owls because their feathers lack any kind of waterproofing. This combination of factors made for a great flight, and we caught a total of 36 owls!!! Definitely the biggest night of the season and it was a treat for everyone who was there (we had several visitors who got to experience our big night). Another highlight was an Eastern Screech-Owl we caught. They are residents at our site but we rarely catch them because we are not targeting them like we do with Saw-whets.

Male Northern Saw-whet Owl -AMJ

Note the different color and wear of some of this owl’s feathers. It has feathers grown in different years of its life (referred to as different generations of feathers), which allows us to age it. Because this bird has at least three distinct generations of feathers, we know it is at least 3 years old, possibly older. -AMJ

UV light is another tool we use to aid us in aging owls. It can reveal freshly grown feathers because they glow pink due to a pigment in the new feathers. This bird is a second-year with two generations of feathers. -AMJ

Catching this Eastern Screech-Owl was definitely a highlight of the owl banding season. -AMJ

32 Northern Saw-whet Owl
1 Eastern Screech-Owl
3 Northern Saw-whet Owl (foreign recoveries)


Leave a Reply