i have been doing this for long enough that one fall migration starts to resemble all the others…kind of like white people. yet, something is going on now in my back yard. the flood of saw-whet owls hasn’t relented; it isn’t showing the typical ebb and flo of movements and pauses in the strigidaen rush to get the hell out of this god-forsaken landscape. winter is coming; owls are telling me that every night.
to hell with the wooly caterpillar.
as spectacular as the nocturnal migration has been, the diurnal migration has been ho-hum; kind of like another single by joe mauer…with the bases empty. i haven’t been able to revel in the dizzying flights of sharpshins as they cull the blue jay population. i haven’t seen the kettles of soaring raptors as they strive to keep their toes away from the chilled waters of the big lake they call gitchee gumee.
maybe it’s just me.
when the sun goes down, however, the saw-whets are moving in torrents. over the past 6 trapping nights, i have banded nearly 300 owls. my fingers are pock-marked with the blotches of unforgiving talons whose movements, even after thousands of owls, can never be predicted. i have bled prideful drops of blood on my data sheets because, dammit, i recognize that it’s still pretty cool to be able to do this in my back yard, knowing that if the wasabi peas kick in, i am merely seconds from my house. all those springs and winters in the field, isolated and cold, confirm that for an owler, this is bliss.
in 2006, i banded 939 saw-whets and thought “this will never happen again.” now, i am wondering if in fact, it is.