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Public invited to see the birds stopping at Long Point on their way south

Prince Edward Point assistant birder Janine McManus introduces a young male sharp-shinned hawk to an appreciative crowd visiting the bird observatory banding station.

In this file photo, Prince Edward Point assistant birder Janine McManus introduces a young male sharp-shinned hawk to an appreciative crowd visiting the bird observatory banding station.

The owls have returned to Long Point from the Boreal Forest to the far north as a stopover on their way to wintering grounds in south eastern United States.

Throughout October, County residents and visitors are welcome to make their way to the migration monitoring station at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) to see Northern Saw-whet Owls up-close. There will also be special activities on Saturday and Monday of the Thanksgiving weekend.

PEPtBO volunteer Ron Efrat holds a Barred Owl and a Northern Saw-whet Owl Photo by David Okines

PEPtBO volunteer Ron Efrat holds a Barred Owl and a Northern Saw-whet Owl
Photo by David Okines

Saw-whets are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and are favourites among visitors of all ages. They return every autumn to the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area at the end of County Road 13 at Point Traverse, where expert banders and volunteers set up nets as part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network’s work to track bird populations and the health of the environment. PEPtBO is a migration research station where 12 to 15,000 birds of more than 120 species are banded. A daily census documents the hundreds of thousands of birds that pass through each spring and fall.

As long as it isn’t raining or too windy, nets are up as of 8p.m. for four hours at PEPtBO to catch Saw-whets, which are then measured, weighed, banded and released. Visitors are welcome at the banding shed at 6056 County Road 13 ( Long Point Road) to see how the birds are extracted from the nets and observed.

Special programs will be held over the Thanksgiving weekend (Oct 8-10). Owl nights are Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sunday Oct. 9 starting at 8p.m.

Daytime programs include 9 a.m. guided birding hikes on Saturday, Oct. 8, and Monday, Oct. 10 when visitors can identify the colourful warblers, flycatchers and thrushes that pass through the County and also see what the banders have caught in the mist nets. Bring binoculars if you have them.

The public is also welcome to join in on Saturday and Monday mornings around 9 a.m. for “the Big Sit Hawk Watch” and children’s activities on Saturday morning.

Visit www.peptbo.ca for more information, maps and directions

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