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Tiny owls tracked in Indiana

Article Date: 2006-11-13   Source:   Comments: 12

Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. - Researchers are catching and banding tiny owls to learn more about their comings and goings through Indiana.

One thing they've learned is that there are more Northern saw-whet owls than once was thought. Some 135 of the little raptors were counted in 2003, up from about 20 per year in the 1980s and '90s.

And researchers are setting up nets in Yellowwood State Forest in southern Indiana and other sites around the state in hopes of finding more during the annual Christmas Bird Count. The Indiana stations are part of a network of about 100 in North America run by Project OwlNet.

Saw-whets are the smallest owl species in Indiana, measuring 6 to 8 inches long with a wingspan of about 20 inches. The predators, which feed mainly on mice, spend summers in the forests of the northern United States and Canada.

In winter they migrate to the southeastern states, flying after dark and stopping in Indiana forests to rest along the way. But little is known about the birds' habits because of their small size and secretive habits.

Researchers who count the birds set up nets in the woods at night so they can catch the birds, measure them and determine their sex and age, then band and release them. By recapturing owls that were already banded, their movements can be traced.

Since 1954, more than 125,000 have been netted and banded and more than 2,000 have been recaptured.

"We're starting to see patterns emerging, now that 2,000 have been recaptured," said David Brinker, of Assateague Island, Md., who helps analyze results of ProjectOwlNet.

Since 2002, southern Indiana researchers have captured owls that were banded in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio, and owls banded at Yellowwood have been recaptured in Ontario.

Disclaimer: This article has been reproduced from and placed here for comment. is not responsible for the accuracy of any information in this article, and does not necessarily agree with the author's opinions.

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On 2007-06-30, from Muncie,In wrote: "there was 6 saw- whet owls in my back yard last night."

On 2007-08-06, from Tn. wrote: "Was lucking enough to have one live just outside my windows last winter. Unfortuntely found him dead under a tree one morning. This is part of thier wintering area.

On 2010-04-23, from Richmond, Indiana wrote: "Have five living in our cedar tree here in the city. Several of them our young, they still have their fuzzy feathers."

On 2010-06-14, Brian Beauchamp from LaPorte, Indiana wrote: "Had 2 adults and 2 young in our yard in town tonight at twilight. Ate lightning bugs which were out for the first time tonight."

On 2010-08-27, from Wabash County Indiana wrote: "Im pretty sure it was a saw-whet owl I hit w/ my car tonight. It was setting on a dark road and I couldnt stop, it flew up and hit my windshield. I picked him up and brought it home still alive but it died an hour later tonight. It is so beautiful and looks like a baby .. I feel terrible.. May God bless these little creatures."

On 2011-01-14, from Hammond, IN. wrote: "I was walking my dog yesterday a.m. in the park (wooded) and heard an owl's hoot... Looked around - couldn't see anything - but was positive that I heard it in trees. That's why I "googled" owls in Hammond, IN. and came upon your site. "

On 2011-06-09, from Muncie, IN wrote: "I got pictures today of a family of small owls. Not sure what they would measure but the mother is about the size of the babies. The nest is close to our backyard. They sit in our trees all day and night."

On 2011-07-18, from South bend in. wrote: "A family of five like to hunt my front yard.have been here every night for the past a good pic and audio."

On 2012-10-27, from (Miller) Gary, Indiana wrote: "1st time in 33yrs, I spotted one of these 10/27/2012 @ 11pm! I went to call my cat in, turn my light on (all kind of critters come on my porch) there it was in my apple tree staring at me, until I opened the door, then it flew up into West Beach Dunes! Beautiful!"

On 2013-03-11, Pete martin from Lafayette wrote: "I have a nesting pair of saw whet owls in an old tree right off our patio, right in the middle of town. This evening I waited til I saw the adult emerge at about 815pm, the took a mouse out and set him in the grass. In about three seconds the owl was down on top of him. I had barely walked 15 or 20 feet away. It wad really cool."

On 2015-02-15, from Bloomington INt wrote: "Not sure what type of owl we have here on our deck. It looks young and does not appear afraid of us as we took some pictures and video. It appears to have yellow eyes and small tufts, ears I am guessing. Our dogs went out and came in too the owl could care less. Oh, we could hear another owl not too far off but this one by us was silent. I have lived here 20 years first owl. I cannot stop watching it. What a gift:)"

On 2015-06-21, Nicole from Greenwood, Indiana wrote: "While taking my dog for his nightly walk, I spotted 4 saw whet owls in a tree. They were very curious, and as I stood there watching them, they intently stared back. When I finally resumed my walk, they followed me, flying from tree to tree down half of the block. "

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