Saw Whet Owl (South Mountain, Maryland)

Holding these beautiful birds is best left to the professionals.  In this case, Steve Huy.

Holding these beautiful birds is best left to the professionals. In this case, Steve Huy.

Today, I was lucky enough to attend a saw whet owl banding in South Mountain State Park, hosted by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society (PVAS).  The banding season lasts a few weeks, from about Halloween-thru-Thanksgiving, and the process provides valuable information regarding the migratory patterns of the birds.

The saw whet is one of the smallest owls in North America.  Adults are roughly 8-9″ high with a wingspan of 17-22″, which isn’t much bigger than a robin or a blue jay.  On average, the female saw whet is slightly larger than the male, and they make up roughly 90 percent of the birds netted.

On South Mountain, a male call was blasted, and the lone female saw whet was caught in a mist net.  The mist net is so-named because it is visible to the human eye in a slight breeze and looks like a light wisp of fog.  We stayed with the group for around three hours, and a little after midnight she was caught and banded.  Afterwards, she was re-acclimated to the dark and shortly thereafter released back into the wild.  Seeing this saw whet owl was a great experience, and I will definitely be checking the PVAS website for further birding opportunities.

Wingspan runs from 17-22"

Wingspan runs from 17-22″

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carol Wilson on November 22, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying your blog. I stumbled upon it via google when we were planning a two day bike ride along the canal from Williamsport towards DC. Soon enough, I just went to the beginning of the blog and am reading through it. I have learned so much, and it helps me put together some pieces, as I have ridden many parts of the Canal (and GAP) but never in one swell foop, as they say. I live in Morgantown, WV, and I appreciate so much all the bike trails I can access. Also, my daughter enjoys hiking at Green Ridge, so you have showed us some new trails there, and helped us understand its relationship to the C &O Canal trail. We took that trip in October, and one of the high points was to bike along the Slackwater part, which was totally new to me. Thanks for your wonderful photos and information!


    • Posted by LevelWalker on November 26, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Thanks for the great comment. I’m originally from Morgantown too. The site has went a little bit off the tracks in recent years, and the canal hasn’t been the center of my attention lately. However, it is where the love of hiking and biking began, and it will always be my favorite–Shenandoah is kind of 1B. Green Ridge does have some great trails!!!!! I’m glad I have been of some help. There are also some good places to hike in Garrett County that I’ve hit traveling between Martinsburg and Morgantown, such as New Germany, Mount Aetna, and the Kendall Trail in Friendsville.


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