Northern Saw-Whet Banding news- a recapture!

Exciting news from the ORI banding station- last week we caught a bird that was originally banded in Canada in 2019!

This female Northern Saw-Whet Owl was originally banded the year she hatched by banders near Matador, Saskatchewan, Canada on October 29, 2019.


We caught her at our station in Missoula, Montana, on October 2, 2021. We aged her as a third year bird.


The distance between Maclay Flats banding station and the Matador station is 390.81 mi (638.95 km). The map below is a screenshot of a Google Earth map with a straight line drawn between the approximate location where this female was banded in Saskatchewan and our banding station in Missoula, Montana.



We were able to find out all of this information because we submitted the band number to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory, which keeps a database of all the birds banded in North America, to learn about where and when this bird was originally banded.


Along with the Canadian Wildlife Service's Bird Banding Office, the Bird Banding Lab runs the North American Bird Banding Program and manages the more than 82 million banding records for stations in North America. On average, the Bird Banding Lab receives 1.2 million banding records each year. These include all species of birds, including raptors, songbirds, and waterfowl.


The picture below is a close-up view of the owl's leg with the band. She was banded on the right leg. Usually, we band birds on the left leg.

Why does this matter?


When we recapture already banded birds (or find dead banded birds), we can learn valuable information about the species. Bird banding studies help monitor population numbers and survival rates. By tracking where birds are recaptured, we can also figure out their migration pathways, the habitats they use at their breeding and wintering grounds, and the places they stop along the way. Knowing this, we can help develop conservation initiatives that preserve these habitats.


Whooo knows where this female is headed next? We wish her safe travels on the rest of her fall migration, and hope that she comes through our station again next fall!