Monday, October 26, 2009

Its a Turkey Vulture with a green tag!!!

Last week my banding buddy, Kelly Kozij from Weyburn, sent me an email of a photo he had received of a large black bird with a green tag on its wing.
Well what do you know, it was a young Turkey Vulture with a green wing tag! How exciting is that!!

Deanne Miller-Jones initially saw the bird as it perched on the top of a light pole in her farm yard near Radville, SK, on Oct 15. Deanne snapped a few photos of the bird, but wasn't completely sure what she was looking at. After the email was passed around a bit it became clear that this was one of the Turkey Vultures tagged by Stuart Houston's crew this summer! Can you make out the tag on the bird below?

Deanne has graciously allowed me to post her photos here. Thanks Deanne!

The bird remained on the light pole for the entire night and departed the next morning around 10:45 AM.

After consulting with Stuart Houston, I found out that this bird, A88, was one of the last birds his crew tagged this fall. It was tagged NW of Hagen on the 30th of August, 2009. It was one of two young vultures found in the attic of an old shed. This nest site was used in 2004 and 2005, but apparently not again until 2009.

The distance from the original tagging site and Deanne's farm was 385 km. Deanne's keen eye is a example of how citizen's can assist in a research program. Without Deanne's report of this bird, this information would not have made it to Stuart and we couldn't have learned what we have learned (ie. that this bird has survived to now, survived the 4 inches of snow that was here for a few days, is still in Saskatchewan, traveled this far this quickly or slowly..., etc). Thanks Deanne for your report and thanks to Stuart Houston for the information regarding this bird.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A recapture!

With only about 28 Northern Saw-whet Owls captured to date, we still did manage to net this little guy on the evening of Oct 12. The exciting part about this bird was that it was already wearing a little aluminum band!!

After submitting the data to the recovery website, ( I learned that this little guy was banding in Ontario, on Sept 22, 2007!! But that is all the detail I know at this point.

Two years ago I captured a bird from Thunder Cape Bird Observatory which is just east of Thunder Bay. The band number was only 400 bands away from the band number of this guy, so this bird likely was first banded at TCBO! This will be the second owl I have captured from their site! I don't know if this is the location where the bird was actually banded but this is my guess. Time will tell.

Looking at the molt pattern on the wing, we aged this bird as an After-Second-Year bird. You can see the different feather generations I have marked on the wing.

I will keep you posted if I find out any more information.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Slow start to Saw-whets

Yikes! I can't believe it it already Oct 8th! It's been a while since my last post.

We are now supposedly deep in to the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding season, but our numbers do not reflect this! I started on Sept 15th this year, 5 days earlier then any other year, and yet my total number of owls so far is very low. To date I have only captured 19 owls. If you compare this to 2006 we were at 56 by this time, in 2007 we were at 84, and last year we had captured 50 owls by this time!

The weather this fall has been dismal! It seems for every night I am able to open my nets, I have two nights were I can't. This is because it is either too windy or because it is raining, or after tonight snowing!! Although it does seem like the owls are just not moving yet. A few days ago I had perfect owling weather and yet only 1 capture at a time of the season when I should have had around 10. This is the trend across the province it seems, for example Ross at Last Mountain Lake has only captured 6 owls as of two days ago!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a surge of owls to show up with this cold snap we are seeing now. But we will have to wait and see I guess.... Here is the first owl I captured this fall.
One thing that was really exciting for me this fall was finding a roosting Northern Saw-whet Owl in our shelterbelt. In the four years of banding, I have never found a saw-whet during the day! It was not me who actually found this little guy, I have the juncos and chickadees to thank. My dog and I were out walking in the morning a few days ago when I heard these little birds going nuts!! CHICKADDEEE-DEEE-DEEE-DEEEE!!!! There must have been twenty little birds flitting around the top of a few trees. I thought to myself there must be some kind of owl or hawk up there. So we went over to investigate and sure enough five feet from the top of the 30 foot spruce tree sat a little saw-whet staring down at me, seemingly annoyed with all the attention the little birds were giving it. It was sitting on a branch about a foot from the trunk of the tree. Below is a crappy picture of the owl. My telephoto lens is on the fritz.