by Darcy Thomas

Northern Saw-whet Owl – Photo by Margaret Parodi

Northern Saw-whet Owls were the focus of the next two bird outings in October. We travelled to the Flathead Lake Biological Station to learn about owl ecology and watch researchers from the Owl Research Institute band, weigh, and measure owls they caught in mist nests during the evening. Participants got to watch several owls get processed and ask a myriad of questions.

These tiny, little owls are only seven-eight inches and weigh two-five ounces each. Their big yellow eyes seem to burst with intelligence and attitude, although the owls we watched were amazingly calm in the hands of the researchers. They are nocturnal and hard to find during the day. Their shrill, penetrating call is a high-pitched too-too-too that is repeated many times in succession. To entice the owls to fly near the mist nets where they could be caught, the researchers played a loud recording of this call that rang out into the forest. Data collected from the migration station will contribute to global efforts to learn more about the migration routes, timing, and habitat use of this fascinating little owl.