Wow what a year; 2015 had a little bit of everything including a few changes. Jordan went off to college at Temple University followed in the fall by Jacob who is attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, making Jackie and I empty nesters for the first time in a score of years. Although we miss them dearly we could not be any prouder of what they have accomplished in their lives. The bittersweet changes we’ve faced in our personal lives though have been a boon for the research center.
The boys going off to college gave us the perfect opportunity to move all of Project Owlnet to the Kettle Creek Wildlife Sanctuary in Bartonsville, PA. Not only did this allow us to finally document these incredibly cute owls at Kettle Creek but it gave us a fabulous facility for doing programs. Given the natural connection between bird banding and the mission of the Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center we made application for Kettle Creek to become a Bird Banding Station meaning the permit would stay with Kettle Creek even after we’re gone. Are there saw-whet owls at Kettle Creek? – Oh yeah, we encountered 67 individuals and 1 screech owl.
As we look forward to what lies ahead in 2016 the horizon is bright. Many of our long term projects have asked us to delve deeper into the intricate interactions at play between birds and their habitats. We have taken a closer look at the lives of gray catbirds and their use of invasive species. For this work Bekah Snyder and Jackie will be working with the East Stroudsburg University DNA lab. We’ve also taken a preliminary look at all the years of eye color data we’ve collected on the owls we’ve banded and see that there may indeed be some correlations, even if they weren’t the ones we expected. In addition to all of the fun scientific work we’ll be doing is the prospect of meeting new and interesting people along the way. Yes, as we start down the trail of our 16th year there is a bounce in our step.