During the migration period last fall (November 2019), we banded 129 saw-whet owls during the 20 nights that the station was open . We also caught and recorded valuable data on 8 owls that were banded at other stations in the US and Canada. Those owls were banded in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Michigan, and Ontario. We also banded one Barred Owl.
Our average rate of banding new saw-whets was .83 owls per hour when the nets were open. This rate was a little lower than some years but close to our long-term average.
Seventy percent of the banded birds were hatch-year (HY) birds and another 11 percent were second-year (SY) birds which suggests that reproduction has been good the past two years in their primary breeding grounds.
As usual most (73 %) of the owls were females which may be a result of a variety of factors, with the primary one being that the recording we play is the mating call of the male saw-whet.
Overall it was a very successful banding season in which we banded an above-average number of birds but not nearly enough to label 2019 as an invasion/irruption year similar to 2007 or 2012. Unfortunately the human visitors outnumbered the owl visitors again, 140 to 129.