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November 16, 2010 / stephanie

Saw-wheet!

Welcome to the new and improved WordPress version of my blog!

There are probably some kinks that still need to be worked out but I’m happy in my new blog home.

First off, I thought I would update with some pictures of my visit at the owl banding station in Stevens Point! So 5 of us from Madison drove up to Linwood Research Station in Stevens Point just for the evening. Gene Jacobs does Saw-whet owl banding there every fall migration and invites visitors to come out and witness their banding station. I’ve been really hoping to go up there and band an owl myself.. but how do I say this.. I’m not really a night owl.. ooh yeah that’s a bad joke. But it’s true. I’m much more of an early bird. And I would have difficulty relocating to Stevens Point for a month to be a volunteer. But anyway! On to the owls..

The lovely wingspan of my first Northern Saw-whet Owl!

I actually have never seen a Saw-whet before, and it isn’t a very surprising fact. Not too may people ever do see these tiny night creatures. You’re much more likely to run into the larger Great Horned or Barred Owls.

I had visited the research station once before and Gene had a few taxidermed owl wings on display and already showed us this cool trick. But it was pretty neat to see with a live owl. The black light shows that the newer feathers glow brightly, while old feathers do not. This is one way of reading the molt of a bird and tells us something about the owl’s age. 1-year old birds will have feathers that all grew in at the same time while older birds such as this two year old have multiple generations of feathers. The feathers glow under the black light because of blood that was supplied to the feather shaft while the feathers were still growing.

Here I am with “Saw-wheety,” a two-year old owl that I got to “adopt,” meaning I got to unofficially name her, hold her and release her after she was banded. If my owl is ever re-captured I will get notified too. The neat thing about my owl is that this night was actually the second time she was captured and she was originally banded at a different station. Maybe that means she will find her way back to that station and get caught again? If she does, then I will find out.

More photos of an owl being released and being hesitant to take flight:

To find out more about Linwood Research Station or to volunteer, visit their website.

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