Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Photos of the Non-Banding

April 8 was an exciting day for me because it was the first day I would see the owlets. We were taking them out to be banded because they were hatched in captivity, but we had more in store for them than that. I put them in cloth bags to carry them down the ladder and into the house, then one at a time we put them through the paces. I was assisted by Dr. Laura Johnson (vet and raptor rehabiltator) and Sue Fletcher, who is starting to do programs with Alice, my education owl.
(c) Sue Fletcher
First up was weighing the owlets on my old triple beam balance. I SERIOUSLY need to get a digital scale one of these days! This one was sticking a bit, making it tricky to use.
(c) Sue Fletcher
  Next I took a measurement called "exposed culmen". This is measuring from the fleshy cere around the nostrils down to the tip of the bill.
(c) Sue Fletcher
 Then Dr. Johnson took blood samples from the owlets' legs so we could do DNA sex testing. I was VERY thankful to have her drawing the blood and not me!
(c) Sue Fletcher
  I put a drop of blood onto each sheet labeled for each owlet. I let it dry and the next day put tape over the blood and mailed it in. We should know in a week or so what we've got, and then the naming can begin!
(c) Sue Fletcher
The owlets were faaaar too large to have the closed loop bands slip over their feet. Two weeks ago would have worked! So I sent the bands back and we'll put on zip-tie bands in a couple of weeks.

(c) Sue Fletcher
 We rounded them all back up at the end for a family portrait (minus Rusty and Iris of course.)

This IS Sue Fletcher!
 Sue, our eager owl handler (someday probably she'll be an Eagle Owl handler too.) Thank you Sue for all the photos!!

Below is the text of the chat that followed the banding for those of you who missed it:

5:09 karlaowl: Halleluhah!  All done!
5:10 karlaowl: The owlets all seem fine and dandy
5:10 karlaowl: The bands were waaaaaaaaaaaaay too small to go on. We 
could get 2 toes through the band loop, barely.
5:11 karlaowl: Their personalities were very different than on camera.
5:11 karlaowl: #2 laid there like jabba the hut the whole time. The 
WHOLE time.
5:11 karlaowl: From removing from the nest, being handled, to going back 
into the nest.
5:11 karlaowl: The littlest one was the spunkiest!
5:12 karlaowl: He stood up while being weighed and was alert and wiggly 
the whole time.
5:12 WyoRanch: good for him, fiesty
5:12 karlaowl: And was the only one to hiss!  He clacked his beak like 
#1 did too.
5:12 karlaowl: And at the very end did a little bitty defense display!
5:12 karlaowl: When #1 saw that, she did a little display too.
5:12 WyoRanch: lol, copy owlcat
5:13 karlaowl: The raptor vet who was here drew the blood samples, which 
are now drying before being mailed in.
5:13 WyoRanch: good, how long for results there?
5:13 karlaowl: I think we could have results in a week. Not sure.
5:14 karlaowl: We wound up not doing video but photos instead.
5:14 karlaowl: Got a nice family portrait at the end to show the 
different stages of development in relation to each other.
5:14 Wolphie: How were their eyes upclose?
5:15 karlaowl: Not a real true yellow yet.
5:15 karlaowl: They didn't appreciate being handled (other than #2 just 
laid there like a blob).
5:16 karlaowl: Did Iris come to the nest at all when the owlets were gone?
5:17 paula2473: she was there when you took the first one - then flew 
off - she didnt even come back to check out the toy
5:17 Wolphie: the gho owlets i've handled all were basically petrified. 
however, they were all sick/injured or fell out of the nest.
5:17 paula2473: it must be so scary for them being totally held by huge 
5:18 karlaowl: Yes, this was a very stressful day for all owls involved.
5:18 paula2473: think Iris has glued herself to the nest!
5:18 karlaowl: Iris had me worried when she came over to the nest 
platform when I took the first kid.
5:18 karlaowl: I had to quick shut the door and I didn't think she'd leave.
5:18 paula2473: and people too! Cant imagine how frustrating that must 
be to not have the right size bands
5:18 karlaowl: She and Rusty responded to the bill clacking, so I 
learned my lesson.
5:19 paula2473: so the owlets were doing the clacking
5:19 karlaowl: I put back jabba the hut first, then #3, then #1 the clacker.
5:19 karlaowl: I think Iris was clacking too. I'll have to review the video.
5:20 karlaowl: The mike you hear is the one right by the nest.
5:21 karlaowl: So unfortunately because these bands didn't fit I'm 
probably going to have to be a baby-napper again in the future.
5:22 paula2473: people were asking if iris has a band - why doesnt she?
5:22 karlaowl: Buuuuut once the DNA sex test results are back the naming 
process can begin!
5:22 paula2473: great!
5:22 karlaowl: Iris was a wild, unbanded bird when she was injured. They 
don't put bands on birds of wild origin unless they are going to live in 
the wild again.
5:22 paula2473: oh that makes sense!
5:23 karlaowl: The bands I put on are to denote they were raised in 
5:23 paula2473: the owlets will have that type of band?
5:25 karlaowl: There are two types of bands for captive reared birds: 
one for those that will stay permanently in captivity and those for release.
5:27 paula2473: I thought they were all adjustable - guess not!
5:28 paula2473: we were so looking forward to the "Bling" LOL
5:28 WyoRanch: Karla, are the bands put on both sexes or just one for GHO's
5:33 karlaowl: Wyo, both sexes are banded.
5:33 karlaowl: I was just recording the data for the owlets;
5:33 WyoRanch: thx, I know they just band the males in balds now
5:34 karlaowl: Weights: #1: 975g, #2: 837g, #3 798g
5:39 karlaowl: #3's primary feathers weren't out of the sheaths yet, 
#2's were 1.5-2 cm out, and #1's were 2-3 cm out.
5:39 karlaowl: I also measured the exposed culmen, which is the part of 
the upper bill from the cere (fleshy part) to the tip.
5:40 karlaowl: #1 was 22.8 mm, #2 was 20.6 mm, and #3 was 19.3 mm
5:41 karlaowl: Behaviorally #1 clacked her bill a LOT (and got me in 
trouble with mom & dad) and she did a little defense display at the end.
5:41 karlaowl: #2 didn't hiss, clack her bill, or do a defense display 
(unless you consider acting like jabba the hut a response)
5:42 karlaowl: #3 was the only one to hiss, and at the end he bill 
clacked a bit and did a tiny defense display.
5:42 karlaowl: #3 still totally has his egg tooth.
5:42 karlaowl: These guys are retaining egg teeth for a very long time!
5:43 karlaowl: OK, I think that's it.  When I get the photos (hopefully 
tonight) I'll get something written up on the blog.
5:43 maxi23: Thank you for the report Karla.
5:43 WyoRanch: thanks Karla, this was awesome!
5:43 karlaowl: It was fun for me to finally see them in person.
5:44 maxi23: I bet.
5:44 WyoRanch: I bet
5:44 WyoRanch: snap
5:45 karlaowl: Bye for now!


  1. Wonderful report Karla. How exciting. Love the pics.

  2. Thank you so much for this report and the great pictures.

  3. I thought DNA testing is usually done by pulling out a feather that had the shaft attached. Is drawing blood a more effective way ?

    1. Apparently blood is better than feathers. You can check out the zoogen website and read the info there.

  4. great report Karla. Love how each owlet seems to have it's own personality - even Sleepy.

  5. I've been watching but haven't had a chance to come in and chat. The owlets are so cute, and I'm amazed at how big they've gotten already! 975, 837, and 798g...whoa! The adult owls I work with (barn and screech) are only around 330 and 165g! I mean, I know GHOs are a lot bigger, but I can't believe how fast they grow!

  6. Thank you so much for all the work you do and congratulations on the new family. This is so interesting and all are so cute. Way to go! Nora Hensley

  7. With parakeets You are suppose to band at 10-12 days of age to slip the band over the foot and have it stay on. Any old at the band won't go over the foot. Any younger and it falls off. It is a short window, and when they are very young. This is around the same time they are opening their eyes, so they really don't know what is going on, and don't fight you. Just mom does that.

  8. Laura wondered if the eyes looked different due to sex-differences or is it just how they are sitting? Finally catching the kids up with your trio :-)

    1. Not sure if it's sex differences or something else. The middle one is a boy, the outer two are girls.

  9. Interesting! So if #2 is a boy, might that be a factor in the behavioral differences you noticed during this handling session? I'm also wondering about the hoot pattern that #2 exhibited previously, which you noted was typical of females--would that suggest that the owlets were imitating their mother at that stage? Just curious....