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PEPtBO bands more saw-whet owls than any research station in Ontario

The season’s first saw whet owl was banded at the observatory. – PEPtBO photo

The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory welcomed its first Northern Saw-whet Owl of the season this week. The observatory research station bands more of these creatures than any other station in Ontario.

PEPtBO resumed full operations for fall migration monitoring last month for the first time in two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bander-in-charge Phillip Mercier and assistant bander Jessica Bao, along with interns Jessica Daze and Kirstin Lachance and PEPtBO volunteers, had a busy first six weeks of passerine monitoring. In the last two weeks in August alone, they banded 1355 birds, a record number for that period.

During October, the team will start the annual banding program for owls – specifically Northern Saw Whet Owls.

The small owls migrate over the County each year in large numbers seeking wild habitat along the South Shore to rest and hide during the day. The team notes the reason for the Saw Whet’s migration pattern is based on geography. Since all raptors, including owls, prefer not to cross large bodies of water, they fly through the South Shore from Point Petre to Prince Edward Point before hopping across the Lake on the many islands at its eastern end.

Visitors are welcome at the observatory during daytime banding daily from 8 a.m. to noon, however, all reservations for viewing owl banding have been filled for the season.

A red-breasted nut hatch banded this week. – PEPtBO photo

Banding of all birds continues. Yesterday, Blue Jays accounted for several dozen of the 139 birds banded, along with a mix of warblers, thrushes, and sparrows among 28 species banded.
Bird number 4,000 is to be banded Sept. 28. Visit PEPtBO on Facebook for birding updates.

Traditionally in the fall, PEPtBO holds its fundraising social event on which the organization depends to run the observatory. As a self-funded charity, PEPtBO cannot exist without the generosity of its supporters – donors, members, and sponsors.

Since the traditional dinner cannot be held this year, PEPtBO is offering a Wild Wings and Wine Tour. On Oct. 16, guests will take a self-directed drive and visit three wineries in the South Shore of the County. Half Moon Bay, Exultet and Long Dog wineries will offer participants a tasting of their award-winning wines and guests receive their own picnic box prepared by Kaleidoscope Moveable Feast. A tax receipt will be issued for the non-food portion of the ticket price which is $80 per person.

Click here for information and registration for the Wild Wings and Wine Tour at The fundraising also includes a 50/50 raffle. Tickets available at the observatory or from board members at $20 allow a chance to win up to $1000.

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