Project Owlnet is a continent wide effort to monitor the migratory ecology and population dynamics of the Northern Saw-whet Owl. This study involves intensive continuous effort mist netting and banding. This small owl is solely nocturnal. Their migratory route takes them from northern Canada to southern Georgia. Due to their small size, they are prey for larger owls and so they tend to remain silent while on the migration. In order to capture or attract these owls to our banding station, we play a lure tape. All owls that visit our station are measured, banded, and released unharmed. We hope that these owls will be recaptured at another station so that we may learn more about their movements. We begin this study on 1 October each year. Contact us for more information about our banding stations.
2020: Our pandemic season has just ended with 68 new owls and 2 foreign recaptures. Thank you to everyone for their understanding as we instituted new protocols for safety at the station. Kettle Creek staff organized a safe and physically distanced education program this year. To the delight of the participants, we were able to provide lots of information about these small owls and their migration.
2019: This season we worked alongside a number of students from NCC, ESU, and Keystone College. The crew was enamored with all of the owls we saw- totaling over 32 new owls and 2 foreign recaptures for the season. Each owl was measured and banded before being released in the field at Kettle Creek. Each Friday we hosted visitors to the station and they had the opportunity to see the owl release. This is always one of the highlights of the banding season. We wish all the owls luck in their travels and hope to 'hear' that they arrived safely at their winter destination. See you next year.
2018: A total of 86 owls banded during this season. This was another spectacular year at Kettle Creek. Each evening, we updated the Kettle Creek data board - which was available for visitors to read when they came by the refuge. Unfortunately, our Friday evening session were full of people, but no owls. I hope we see a resurgence of both next year.
2017: What an exciting year for research, but much slower for the birds. This season we netted and banded 33 Northern saw-whet owls. Participants in the weekly owl programs were often disappointed, however they showed resilience and a keen understanding of field research, and aptly returned again and again. Finally, they were rewarded with the appearance of a few owls before the season end. Many thanks to the folks at Kettle Creek Wildlife Sanctuary for hosting us this season, and we also thank the many volunteers and visitors who smiled through a lot of empty nights in search of the elusive Northern Saw-whet Owl. We hope to see you again in 2018.
2016: 100 Owls at Kettle Creek! By the end of this season, we had visited with 100 different owls during the 2016 season of Project Owlnet. Most of these owls were newly banded by our volunteers, but a few were visitors that had been banded at other stations. As always- these are the most exciting owls with a great story to tell! One owl was originally banded at a station in Estes Park, Colorado and another was banded in our backyard at a station in Little Gap, PA. More information should be coming from the Bird banding lab in the near future. Additionally, our Friday night programs were a huge success, offering an up close view of field research to the community. Thank you to Kettle Creek for offering such a wonderful location, and thank you to all the volunteers for their valuable assistance.
2015: We spent our first full season of Project Owlnet at the Kettle Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and we are pleased to announce that it was a resounding success. Not only did we band 65 new Northern Saw-whet Owls and recapture 3 birds that were previously banded, we were able to accommodate many visitors, interns, and service learning students from Northampton Community College. Banding at a location like the Monroe County Conservation District and the Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center allowed us to provide a more complete educational experience to everyone. We look forward to many more years at this new location.
2014: We were unable to band this year.
2013: Our season began in the forests at Spruce Mountain. Using a lean-to that was graciously donated by Spruce Lake Retreat, we were able to open our station by 1 October and banded almost nighty until 15 November. This year we banded over 20 Northern Saw-whet Owls and listened to many others move around the station. Visitors were afforded the opportunity to see many live owls, and some lucky visitors released the banded birds themselves.
2012: On 30 September, a small team of researchers met in the Rhododendron Swamp to set up the nets for owl banding. Three male Northern Saw-whet Owls became the first birds of the year when they wandered into the nets on the evening of October 6. In total, we banded 57 new northern saw-whet owls and three Eastern Screech Owls. In a season which comprised rainy nights, high winds, Hurricane Sandy and many beautiful starry nights, we had a a successful year. Many thanks to our dedicated interns from East Stroudsburg University, Northampton Community College and University of Pennsylvania.
2011: We opened the nets on 9 October and found our first Northern Saw-whet Owl on the 11th. There was a great season of volunteers, interns, visitors, and a total of 21 Saw-whets. One of these was a foreign recapture that had been banded in N. Hadley, Massachusetts. We also had a visit by a grey phase Eastern Screech Owl. Thank you to Dan Zmoda, Doug Burton, Stephen and Terry Kloiber, Bekah Snyder, Dr. John Leiser and the students at Northampton County Community College for all of your help. Thank you to Skytop Lodge for hosting us for another season.
2010: This year we used radio tracking on several of the owls we caught. We trapped 82 individuals (one foreign recapture) this year. Radio tracked birds were identified during the period of the full moon, and they did not stray far from the station. All radios were recovered. Further studies with radio tracking should be included in the future.