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Netting the wrong owl and squirrel

Posted on Oct 17, 2014

What was going to be a quiet night of just trying to band migrant Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) turned into so much more. Tyler Christensen and I cut our mist nest lane configuration earlier in the day and returned around 6:45 to get things started. We use an audio lure to try and bring migrating Saw-whet Owls to the nets, so we started that and left the area. We decided to wait till 7:50 to check the nets again. We strolled down to the set-up to find no owls yet, but all of a sudden we heard some rustling. We both looked and saw a Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) run up a tree. We waited a little while to see if we could catch a glimpse of their gliding ability. Sure enough it went to the top of that tree and glided to the next tree. We both relished the moment never having witnessed that before. One of our nets needed a little adjustment, so we set about doing that for a few minutes. As we were walking back, Tyler spotted before me that in the moments in between seeing the squirrel and fixing the nets, we had caught him.

Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) net

We ran up quickly to secure him so he wouldn’t escape. We paused for a moment to admire him, just in case in the extracting process we were going to do bare-handed went south. Luckily with a little teamwork we extracted our friend and put him in a bag. We decided we would try and get some photos of him.

Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans)

After a few minutes we were satisfied and went back to release him. As we get down to the nets we notice we caught an Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio).

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) hand

Now we have to get the owl out before we release the squirrel. We get the owl out and try and film the squirrel release to very little success. So we process the owl and take some photos outside before releasing him.

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio) tree

Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)

All in all it was a night I won’t forget soon.

Sean Graesser
RTPI Affiliate