Rockingham County, VA 11/21/13

All photos are Marshall Faintich

Alice and I drove with Walt Childs up to the Highland Retreat just before the West Virginia border in Rockingham County, Virginia, to observe the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding conducted by Clair Mellinger and Charles "Zig" Ziegenfus. They had a large net constructed high up along a ridge, and played a Saw-whet Owl call to attract these little owls.

We were part of the first observers to arrive. Alice, Clair, and two other observers climbed the hill and retrieved the first captured Saw-whet Owl of the evening. While they were enroute, about 20 more observers arrived.

Once the owl was brought to the banding shelter, Clair and Zig made various measurements of the bird, and did a lot of explaining about what they were doing, the process of catching and banding the owls, etc. A few of us were lucky to get a chance to hold this owl. It was really cool to hold this owl in my hand.


Alice holding the Saw-whet Owl


Banding the Northern Saw-whet Owl


Banding the Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Measuring the Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl

The owl was examined under ultra-violet light. New feathers showed up as bright red.


Northern Saw-whet Owl

When Clair took the second group up the hill to collect more owls, Zig released the first owl onto a nearby picnic table, and it stayed there for about 20 minutes before flying away. It didn't seem to mind my taking photos of it. Perhaps it enjoyed my stroking its head when I was holding it, and it wanted more :-)


Releasing the Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl


Northern Saw-whet Owl

We left soon after the first Saw-whet Owl flew away, and before the second group returned with three owls. Later, a third group retrieved two more owls, one of which had been banded previously in Pennsylvania.



E-mail comments on this report


Return to blog page home