Rushton Saw-whet Owl recaptured by Scott Weidensaul

Friends of Rushton Banding,

You read in Lisa’s  message that on 11/11 we captured a Saw-whet Owl banded in 2009 about 20 miles west of Boston.   We were thrilled.

Better yet, today I got word from the Bird Banding Lab that our Saw-whet Owl  # 0494-81914 banded on 11/9 had been recaptured, but they didn’t tell me the Who? What? When? Where? How?

This afternoon I checked the owl banders’ Listserve and saw a message requesting data on owl # 0494-81914.  That’s our  Rushton’s owl!!!   The Who? was Scott Weidensaul, owl bander extraordinaire.  The Where? was  Small Valley, one of Scott’s three banding stations near Schuylkill Haven, PA, 60 miles northwest of Rushton.  The When? was 11/14/10.

Scott encouraged the creation of our owl banding station when Lisa volunteered at Hidden Valley in the 2009 season.

Owl # 0494-81914 was released from a Rushton bander’s grip at 9:45 pm on 11/9.  By 11/14  it had traveled 60 miles northwest, rather than south, to be captured at Small Valley.   We know that Saw-whets wander as they migrate, but why was our first recovered owl not traveling in the usual southward direction as winter approaches?   These are the observations and questions that make banding so interesting.  Effort and careful data collection are required to record and understand the movements of these little owls.  Spurred on by your interest Rushton will  continue to collect and share data with the national Saw-whet study network, Project Owlnet, for a fuller understanding of their movement during migration.

Lisa, Lou, Bonnie and I will see Scott on Thursday night at the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club’s annual banquet where we’ll raise a glass together in a toast to owl  # 0494 81914.  We have banded 89 owls, a record for the Delaware Valley.  We will attempt to reach 100.  Raise a glass and wish us and our owls well.

See you in the woods,

Doris McGovernMedia, PA