And man, I was glad some owls turned up last night! We had a rather celeb cast on hand, partly on my invite, and we would have felt bad if no owls showed. They did, fortunately, with three birds being caught. One had been banded the previous night; the other two were new birds. This brings the total capture since October 10th - 28 nights of banding - to 93 different birds! That's over three an evening, on average. This is definitely the year os the saw-whet.
Measuring an owl's foot. Not for a shoe fitting, but to gather additional data that might help in sexing birds. Sometimes, telling males from females is not that easy and banders are still learning ways to distinguish the sexes. These owls are incredibly tolerant of people, and the banding process. Generally, they just lay there and look at the people with a rather curious attitude. I suspect that for many owls, we are the first humanoids they have ever seen, and that in conjunction with their calm dispositions leads them to view us rather peacefully. Sometimes, upon release an owl will be placed on someone's arm. There it will sit, sometimes for several minutes, before deciding to fly back into the dark forest.Something rather amazing that we've found is that saw-whets seem to greatly enjoy having their necks rubbed. That's what is going on here, and the owl has hooded its eyes and is pushing back into the fingers of the petter, much in the manner of a cat. I found that when I gently rubbed the sides of their heads, they also relished that feeling and would push hard against my fingers and practically become entranced. No, I don't think the micro-owls suffer much from their banding experience and I'd be surprised if their heart rates even elevate a beat.