What can I say about owls? I just ADORE them! Whether they’re burrowing owls (as blogged about last post), or any of the other North American species (great horned, barred, northern hawk, northern pygmy, northern saw whet, snowy, great gray, barn, boreal, flammulated, ferruginous pygmy, long-eared, short-eared, spotted owl) … oh, and I can’t forget the screech owls – eastern and western species.
In Florida, we were graced with a pair of eastern screech owls which took up residence in our yard, or in a neighbor’s yard, and gave us the opportunity to watch their young grow up and eventually fledge. One time, Tom even got to rescue a 2-week old owlet that had fallen out of its nest while its mom was sleeping.
So it’s safe to say I have a definite love for them. So when I heard that there was going to be a public owl banding event in my area, I just knew that I had to be there for it.That’s right … the Grand Valley Audubon Society, who incidentally had the highest record of western screech owls in the U.S. in 2017, was going to be visiting some known nests in the area and banding the mom and the young owlets. Most of the owls were from owl boxes that the Audubon group or residents had erected to promote good environments for them to breed in and raise their young.One of the coolest things to me was that this event focused on youth and so lots of children were in attendance. I remember thinking how cool this would have been for me as I was growing up. Once the owls were gathered, they would examine them for age, past banding (if applicable), etc. Records are kept to aid in the scientific studies of the species.When one of the moms was held, Kim (the biologist who was banding them) educated kids and adults alike on many things, including the “brood patch” which is evident when mom is caring for her very young … keeping them warm.The young owlets, of course, were a bit unaware of what was going on, but they didn’t seem to mind too much.Once a band was placed, that number and location would be recorded on the record sheets.Each owlet of the brood would take their turn in banding and would then get huddled up together for security and warmth. Here you can see 5 babies … which was a new one for me.Could these sweet little faces be any cuter?Mama would always keep a close eye on her young and though seemingly irritated at first, would calm down in no time.It was interesting to me to see the variation of number of young at each nest and also the timing of their new arrivals … as some were clearly older or younger than others.
One thing was for sure … they were all adorable! Look at those iconic lemon yellow eyes and all of that down looking feathers. I was in heaven as I happily snapped off images at each stop.Yes, I was bitten by the western screech owl bug for sure! Can’t wait to do it again next year. ❤Hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I would highly encourage any of you owl-lovers out there to take advantage of any programs that you might have in your town to spend some time with this worthwhile educational event. Be forewarned though … you might just have your heart melted. 🙂
Next Up: More local birding action
© 2018 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography