Catching Saw-whet Owls



I’m staying up tonight with Ed to capture Northern Saw-whet Owls. It’s 11pm, and we’ve caught three so far – not bad, but not spectacular (a good night at Petit Manan Point might yield 20 by midnight). We take turns checking seven mist nets outside our trailer once an hour, luring in the fist-sized owls with a boombox which continuously broadcasts their calls at full volume.

Couple of interesting things about saw-whets. You can tell how old they are by looking at different generations of feathers in their wings, and this is made easier by spreading their wing under a blacklight (fresh feathers glow pink under UV rays). We use a light called the “stink finder,” designed to find cat pee stains in carpets. And Saw-whets often take a minute to fly away upon release, so you can sit one on your shoulder to pose for photos. Cool stuff!

4 replies
  1. Zenobia in Portland
    Zenobia in Portland says:

    Sooo cool! I’d stay up til midnight – maybe even 2 a.m. – for the chance of finding an owl with so much visible personality.

  2. Cisco
    Cisco says:

    Noah …Love your pictures and adventures. The owls are fantastic. We have a burrowing owl where I live, odd to think of a bird living in a hole in the ground. I’m just spending time at our cabin in the Sierras getting it fixed up for winter. All the discomforts have been forgotten, and I’m thinking of what might be a good hike for next summer. Cisco, and Roadrunner

  3. Hyla Lipson
    Hyla Lipson says:

    Those owls are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Cute!
    I just typed your name on my Rotary schedule in the weekly newsletter. Wow – time goes fast.
    Can’t wait.

  4. Larry Sirvio
    Larry Sirvio says:

    Does the UV light trick work on other birds besides owls?
    Could this be useful for aging other species?

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