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A Tribe of Tiny Owls is On the Move

November 11, 2008
Chris Volonte with one of the 159 Saw-whet Owls she has banded so far in 2008. (photo © Rebecca Landry)

Chris Volonte (in red), with one of the 159 Saw-whet Owls she has banded so far in 2008. (photo © Rebecca Landry)

This autumn, we’re thrilled to partner with Antioch University New England graduate student and experienced bird bander Chris Volonte on the first-ever Northern Saw-whet Owl banding project in southwest New Hampshire! Chris has spent every clear night since late September with teams of AVEO volunteers, setting and checking owl nets at four stations throughout Cheshire County.

Considered by many avid birders to be a “once in a lifetime” species, Northern Saw-whet Owls seem rare, but they’re not. These secretive, tiny predators simply keep well hidden in dense vegetation, where they quietly hunt for mice and other prey from low branches.

To date, Chris has caught 168 Saw-whet Owls (!!!!), on their way from Canada and the northern United States to warmer climes, where it’s not quite so hard to hear a mouse scampering under the snow. In addition to banding 159 owls, Chris and her teams have caught 5 owls that were previously banded in other parts of the northeast; two of Chris’s owls were also re-captured further south on their journey.

This program is sure to become one of AVEO’s most interesting pursuits! To learn more about owl banding, visit Project Owlnet.