NEWS

Transmitters following Wyoming’s burrowing owls over winter

New developments in solar-powered GPS technology are helping researchers collect more data on the elusive seasonal migration and winter ranges of burrowing owls that nest in Wyoming during the summer months. 

12/3/2018 11:01:27 AM

Cheyenne - New developments in solar-powered GPS technology are helping researchers collect more data on the elusive seasonal migration and winter ranges of burrowing owls that nest in Wyoming during the summer months. Nicknamed in some birding circles as the “howdy owl” for the way they bob their heads as if they’re nodding hello, burrowing owls are one of the more mysterious birds of the state. But researchers know populations are declining throughout the West.

In an effort to improve management on breeding grounds, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit are capturing and banding Wyoming’s burrowing owls to learn more about their summer and wintering areas and seasonal migration routes.

Conjectures based on neighboring states’ data suggest Wyoming’s owls  migrate south from early July to as late as mid-October. Researchers suspect owls winter in Mexico.

“We have obtained very few band returns from burrowing owls, so we don’t have information on migration from leg bands like we do from some other birds,” said Courtney Conway, a professor at the University of Idaho and the leader of Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit who is guiding the research with Game and Fish.

Data on burrowing owls depends heavily on returned bands and sightings. Conway reports that sightings are scarce, though, because it is challenging to observe owls during the winter months. Technology hasn’t been an option either until recently. In the past, satellite technology was not small enough to affix to the miniature (9.5-inch) birds. Now, there is a smaller transmitter.

In July, Game and Fish attached one of these tiny solar-powered units to an adult burrowing owl on the Pinedale Mesa south of Pinedale. Six juvenile owls were also fitted with leg bands for future identification. In a different study in eastern Wyoming, six additional juvenile burrowing owls were banded, and three adult owls were fitted with leg bands and solar transmitters.

“We only fit adult burrowing owls with the GPS transmitters to track their year-round movements,” said Andrea Orabona, Game and Fish nongame bird biologist.  

Over the past five years, researchers have placed satellite transmitters on 60 burrowing owls in Western states. Unfortunately, many of those have died or their transmitters have stopped sending locations. Owls outfitted with the new transmitters from Wyoming, along with other owls from Western states and Canadian provinces, will add new data and hopefully new understanding about these mysterious little birds.

 

(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))

- WGFD -


CWD found in a new elk hunt area near Sheridan

Game and Fish continues to notify hunters of new areas where CWD is found

Continue reading...




Lathrop and Sons boot company contributes to hunting and fishing access

Access Yes, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department program that provides public access areas to hunt and fish, is getting a big boost this January, thanks to a generous donation from Lathrop and Sons.

Continue reading...




Five conservationists selected for 2019 Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame

Five individuals who made significant contributions to the Wyoming outdoors will be inducted into the Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame this March.

Continue reading...




Game and Fish Commission to meet in Cheyenne

The public is invited to attend the meeting and open house

 

Continue reading...






Game and Fish prepares for CWD at elk feedgrounds

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department remains concerned about chronic wasting disease and how it may affect the future of Wyoming’s deer, elk and moose, and is moving forward with efforts to manage the disease.

Continue reading...




Big game license applications open Jan. 2

A new year is around the corner, and for hunters that means time to apply for your 2019 big game hunts. 

Continue reading...






Game and Fish credit card processing fee begins for 2019 season

The 2.5% fee reduces administrative costs with credit card transactions

Continue reading...




Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s 2018 year in review

Record-breaking fish, grizzly bears, strategic planning and the Wyoming Outdoor Expo were among the notable events in 2018 for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

Continue reading...




Email Newsletter

Email Newsletter Sign Up

Stay up to date on all Wyoming Game and Fish news either by email or text message. Click the link below to get started.

Sign Up Today

SHOP WYOMING GAME & FISH STORE   SHOP NOW!

Conserving Wildlife - Serving People