Sunday, January 16, 2011

2009-2010 Short Eared Owl & Raptor NYSDEC study blog

NYSDEC 2009-2010Short Eared Owl & Raptor study had another successful year monitoring & capturing of Short Eared Owls, Northern Harrier and Red Tailed Hawks.

4 Short Eared Owls were captured in 2009-2010 study, there are several parts of the study which include monitoring, capturing of the owls using humane traps, tracking of radio transmitted owls. The scientific research done during the study is capturing owls & other raptors and measuring there beak, body length, weighing the bird, check primary & secondary feathers and the tail feather length of the bird. I take all of the photos which are shared with the NYSDEC for their research files of each owl & raptor captured.

Out of the 4 Short Eared Owls capture, 3 were fitted with Radio Transmitter backpacks and the 4th was fitted with a Satellite Telemetry transmitter backpack so all the owls can be monitored using Radio/Antenna signal at the study sites and map their movement by using Satellite's. All 4 Short Eared Owls were captured on several different types of traps including a Bal-Chatri, Carpet Noose and in a Mist Net.

1 Northern Harrier was captured on a Bal-Chatri trap which was fitted with a Radio Transmitter backpack and was tracked from were it was captured to another Short Eared Owls site about 15 miles Northeast several day later.

3 Red Tailed Hawks were captured this season, 2 were captured on a Bal-Chatri trap and the other on a Carpet noose pole trap.

Our Owl numbers were slightly lower than the last several years study but the raptor numbers were about the same as previous years.

We had many volunteers that made this years study a success who gave many hours of their time monitoring and trapping of Owls and Raptor during some very cold evenings, sometimes with wind chill temps in the negatives. They watch the traps in the fields from their vehicle's while I sit in a camouflaged blind running the Bow Net trap observing the area using my Night Vision monocular with IR light. Without volunteers sacrificing their time the study would not have been this successful.

Chuck Rosenberg who works for the NYSDEC is the Biologist in Region 9, who is the leader of the Short Eared Owl & Raptor study. Our group of the volunteers have spend many hours in the field working side by side with Chuck monitoring & trapping many owls & raptors over the years making the study very successful with a lot of research gathered. Every year we start to monitor previous study areas for Short Eared Owls, Northern Harriers and other raptors in search of good foraging habitat's which are becoming more and more scarce.

It has become easier to locate study area's because most of the Short Eared Owls always return to the same location as in previous years plus with all the data we have collected over the past 5 years it makes it's mush easier. In some places the Short Eared Owls & other Raptors will stay for a long periods of time as long as the conditions & habitat are right for their survival. If the habitat is poor the Short Eared Owls will move on looking for a better habitat that will sustain them through winter when they head back in spring to their breeding and nest areas in Northeastern Canada.

This is the 1st Short Eared Owls captured.

Ryan is the other DEC employee who did most of the monitoring of the Short Eared Owls and other raptors fixed with a radio transmitter throughout the study.

This is the 1st Short Eared Owl just before being released.

Several of our group watching a Short Eared Owl roost site at a distance during one of our early morning trappings.

This is a Short Eared Owls perched on a pine tree in its roost area, it is perched on a small branch which isn't even bending due to the owls light weight.

The scientific research being gathered from the 2nd Short Eared Owl is to visually look the bird over and do several measurements of the owls wings, length, beak and talons. A saliva swab is taking along with a small feather which is tested later.

The primary & secondary wing feathers are examined for wear which sometimes helps in aging the bird to.

The tail feather are being examined for wear to determine the age of the bird, then the tail is measured and photographed.

This photo was taken a little after 4:00am while we are hiking into our trapping location, sometimes through 12" - 16" of snow carrying all of our trapping nets, poles, bow net, camouflaged blind, ETC.

Here a photo of our 3rd Short eared Owl.

Here is a photo of a Short Eared Owl ear channel which is fairly large which help it locate prey while flying close to ground.

The release of the Short Eared Owl.

Chuck has a Red-tailed Hawk which is being prepared for the scientific research part of the study.

Red-tailed Hawk in flight after being released.

This the first and only Northern Harrier that was capture and fitted with a Radio transmitter backpack.

Chuck is finished with the Harrier's research data and is ready to release it back in the same area is was captured.

The Northern Harrier being released.

This is a Bow Net which is one of the more successful capturing methods during our study.

This is a Bal-Chatri trap which has nooses fastened on the top using Meadow Voles inside the trap with a MP3 player fastened underneath it to draw in and capture raptors. It has been one of the most effective methods of capturing owls & hawks.

Here is a Carpet Noose pole trap with a indicator light attached so when a bird gets its talons caught in the noose which cover the top, when it try's to fly away it lifts the carpet which is fastened to the pole with a tethered string so the bird can safely land on the ground close to the pole.

This is a Auto Noose trap which I built 2 years ago and has been modified several time, several Short Eared Owls have landed on it with several close calls but no captures.

Here are several Mist Nets set-up in between pines in a occupied Short Eared roosting site.

I hope you enjoyed the write up and the photos that I took during this years Short Eared Owl & raptor study.

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