November 21st – SNBU Checkup & NSWO Report

Juvenile peaking out from the nest in a cliff-top crack on Svalbard.

It’s always nice to hear news from the Banding Office when one of “your” birds is recovered a long way away. This notification, which I just received, was particularly pleasing: a female SNBU that we had banded here in far southern Ontario on January 29, 2011 was recaptured about 1600 kilometers away by Yann Rochefault on April 15th, 2012 at Riviere-Saint Jean, QC.

SNBU Sighting Updates:
(November 10th)
I have heard my first flock fly over my place (Saint-Fabien, Québec) last week end. Only a few birds (<10). Charles Maisonneuve

(November 15th)
Hi Rick,
I saw a flock of about 100 SNBU today just north of Kingston.
Nothing around here though (Fitzroy harbor).
Fergus Nicoll

(November 17th)
I have not seen any Snow Buntings at or near the East Harrow [ON] site yet. However, a lone SNBU was seen (by Robert Cermak of Ottawa) perched on one of the big rocks at the tip at Point Pelee on Wednesday, November 14, 2012.
C.D. Staddon

(November 18th)
Hello Rick:
Just a quick note — a flock of about 100 Snow Buntings showed up at my site today. Seems early, but I will lay down some corn to keep them interested…………… David Lamble, Fergus ON

(November 20th)
Hi Rick:
……we are getting lots of snbu in the area some very large flocks of plus 300 but mostly 12 or so birds but they are getting more frequent and easier to find. We are checking for horned larks in every flock that we can get bis on. loved your blog from the east coast looking forward to you setting some time aside to write a book. Will snbu come to corn when there is no snow??? Nice job with the Nashville.
Bruce Murphy
Temiskaming Shores, ON

[Great question: will SNBU’s come to bait without snow cover? That hasn’t been my experience but what has everyone else found? David Lamble (above) is laying out corn and he doesn’t have any snow….]

Nancy the “owl whisperer”. -B. Fotheringham

Banding Up-Date for the Northern Saw-whet Owl Program
By Nancy Furber, Bander-in-charge

The 2012 Northern Saw-whet Owl (NSWO) banding season was off to an early start with the first owl being banded on September 28th. Last year we didn’t start our season until October 10th, with the first owl being banded on October 16th, 2011. There was the potential to surpass our season best from last year – 58 birds handled. We wouldn’t be disappointed. It was an amazing, successful season!! A total of 100 birds were handled – 88 Northern Saw-whet Owls and 2 Eastern Screech Owls were banded with 10 NSWO retraps (all of them were 2012 Ruthven banded birds).

-B. Fotheringham

Using the same study area and method (see RIVERSONG, Fall 2012. ‘Fall Migration of Northern Saw-whet Owls’, pg 11/12) the nets were opened on 20 nights between September 28th and November 11th. Owls were caught and banded on 18 of the 20 nights with no owls being caught due to the weather with the remaining two nights. The busiest night was October 21/22 when a total of 20 owls were caught and processed (19 NSWO’s banded and 1 retrap)!! During one net check I had seven owls to extract. After seven and half hours, the last net was closed and the final bird was banded. I was exhausted, but exhilarated!

Applying the band. -B. Fotheringham

Of the 88 Northern Saw-whet Owls banded, 59% were sexed as females, 10% were sexed as males, and 30% were unknown. For the age statistics, 84% were aged as hatch year (HY), 6 % were aged as second year (SY), 6% were aged after second year (ASY), and 2% were aged as third year (TY).
The Ruthven Park Banding Lab had a momentous banding season. Many new firsts included the increase of Northern Saw-whet Owls banded (88), the increase in the number of visitors (42), and an increase in the number of volunteers. This was a successful season of growth, with the opportunity to learn more and teach others about the life of an owl. Thanks to the team members – Rick Ludkin, Matt Timpf, Chris Harris, Christine Madliger, Rhiannon Leshyk, and James Furber. Thanks to the many volunteers and visitors who came and made a difference. A special thank you to Irene and Bob Fotheringham. They came on numerous evenings and it always made for a fun night. Irene took good care of us by bringing hazelnut coffee, hot chocolate, and her delicious baked goods and Bob provided us with some great photography and star gazing entertainment. Thanks to both of you for everything!! We will continue this program in the fall of 2013 and volunteers/visitors are always welcome.

Photos from Heidi Scarfone:
[slickr-flickr tag=November212012]

3 thoughts on “November 21st – SNBU Checkup & NSWO Report

  1. Hi Rick,
    You asked for images of the snbu sites, so here is a link to the webcam that stares…more or less…at my site in Barnston Ouest, QC. No birds yet and no snow either, as you can see!
    Carl Bromwich

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