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Saw What? Saw Whet!

January 8, 2013 - 2:52pm

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A Northern Saw-Whet Owl is captured for banding during the banding demonstration 
at the Fernald Preserve in Ohio in November

A Northern Saw-Whet Owl is captured for banding during the banding demonstration at the Fernald Preserve in Ohio in November

A band is attached to the leg of a Northern Saw-Whet Owl during the 
banding demonstration at the Fernald Preserve in Ohio in November.

A band is attached to the leg of a Northern Saw-Whet Owl during the banding demonstration at the Fernald Preserve in Ohio in November.

A Northern Saw-Whet Owl is captured for banding during the banding demonstration 
at the Fernald Preserve in Ohio in November
A band is attached to the leg of a Northern Saw-Whet Owl during the 
banding demonstration at the Fernald Preserve in Ohio in November.

For the second year in a row, in early November, the Fernald Preserve in Ohio hosted a Northern Saw-Whet Owl banding demonstration by master bander, Tim Tolford. Bird banding is a technique used to study wild birds by attaching a tag to their leg to identify them. Identification helps researchers track and study their habits. Banding increases knowledge of the Saw-Whet’s life and the demonstration helped participants understand the importance of banding to studying the distribution of bird populations. Due to the number of attendees in 2011, the demonstration was expanded to two nights this year and was attended by 97 interested participants.

Saw-Whet Owls are the smallest North American owl and are about 7 inches long and weigh between about 2.6 to 3.9 ounces. Despite their small size, they are fierce raptors, with a diet of mice, frogs, and insects.

The banding took place in the northwest corner of the preserve along Hickory Trail. Two long lanes of mist nets were set up in a wooded area with a game recorder continuously repeating a recording of the owl’s calls. Mist nets are very light weight, small mesh nets used for safely capturing birds for banding. In total, seven birds were banded; four on Friday night and three on Saturday night. One of the birds banded on Friday night was caught again on Saturday night. It was possible these birds had been in the area for several days, but Mr. Tolford thought the birds caught were being attracted to the recording while migrating overhead for the winter.

This event, and others like it at the Fernald Preserve, continue to provide educational outreach opportunities to the community.

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