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Traveling WV: Saw Whet Owl Banding

A captured Saw Whet Owl remains docile while being banded and observed before being released. (WCHS/WVAH)

Most people have never heard of, let alone seen a Northern Saw Whet Owl. These small, secretive, and elusive birds of prey migrate through West Virginia every November when the nights get cold and clear. Joey Herron, owner and operator of Herron Birding, has been capturing, banding, and releasing Saw Whet Owls for the past 13 years. He began allowing the public to join him for a few nights to raise awareness of the Saw Whet, and to share the experience of being up close and personal to such an elusive and fascinating bird.

Besides the cool factor, which is off the charts, there is real research happening at Joey's banding station. Every Saw Whet Owl is banded, weighed, and measured. All the data is entered into a nationwide database called Project Owlnet, which has allowed wildlife biologists to learn more about the Saw Whet's numbers, range, and survival rates. The Saw Whet banding for the public has ended for 2017, but follow Herron Birding on Facebook for dates and times for next year.

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