Last night, Emily and I opened the owl nets for the first time this spring.  We arrived at the station around 8:00, and spent a few minutes listening to the peenting of woodcocks in the field.  It was too dim to see much, but we could tell they were calling from several locations.  After opening the nets, we had several fruitless net checks.  After two and a half hours, we decided to quit.  We closed the three aerial nets, and then prepared to close the shorter owl nets . . . but we got a big surprise when we discovered this little lady!

First Northern Saw-whet Owl of the Spring Season

First Northern Saw-whet Owl of the Spring Season

Although she seemed especially tiny when we pulled her from the net, she actually measured near the upper end of our scale for wing length.  After we released her, she sat quietly for several minutes on a dogwood branch before flying up to a nearby tree.

Of course, since we knew there were owls in the area, we had decided to leave the two short nets open!  We had one more run with no owls, and then decided to give it one more try before closing.  On the last run, Emily noticed an owl flying low near one of our nets.  As we appeared, it flew up and took a perch about 2 feet above the net.  We decided to walk back up the trail (away from the owl) for about 100 feet, and then walk back.  Our plan must have worked, because when we returned, the owl was in the net.  And wouldn’t you know it . . . it was the same little lady.  She must have been awfully interested in our call!  We let her go, closed the nets, and called it a night.  Andrea Patterson