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The season ended with a total of 40 newly banded Northern Saw-whet Owls.  This is our lowest total for a full season since we started banding in 2001.  However it is not too far below 2002 when I banded 49 and 2013 when we banded 47.  Almost 60% were second-year (SY) birds which is to be expected because we banded a large number of hatch-year (HY) birds last year.  This year the few HY birds that we banded (about 12%) came late in the season – none before November 16.  All these statistics are similar to those of other eastern North America stations posting reports on the ProjectOwlnet listserv.  Those of you who were at the November Rockingham Bird Club meeting heard Dave Brinker, one of the founders of Project OwlNet, say many of these same things.  At his station on Assateague Island, MD, he banded only four new owls this year! Both he and Scott Weidensaul, the other Project Owlnet co-founder, are predicting a peak year for saw-whet migration next year.

My colleague Charles Ziegenfus did not get to the banding station much this year but is feeling a little better he says and as usual is handling a lot of the paperwork, especially the data submission to the USGS bird banding lab.

Special thanks again to Christopher Lehman, Ben Spory, and Jake Myers for their consistent help with the net-tending and banding.  Jake also helped me to set up the upper nets.

We will see what 2020 brings.IMG_20191108_204122424_HDR (1)

Ben, Jake, Chris and undoubtedly an SY saw-whet

The visitors outnumbered the owls again this year.  Part of the reason for that can be deduced from this photo.IMG_20191116_203234279

The Blue Ridge Young Birders Club visit Highland Retreat