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 -


Holiday gift ideas for the hunter, angler and wildlife viewer on your list

Easily find the perfect holiday gift for the person who likes to hunt, fish or enjoy wildlife with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

Continue reading...




Game and Fish announces winners of 2018 AIS raffle

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is happy to announce the winners of the 2018 Wyoming Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Boater Appreciation Raffle

Continue reading...




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. 

Continue reading...




New funding helps broaden bat research and white-nose monitoring

Wyoming bat biologists are expanding their research on the winter habitat of bats in Wyoming with new funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Continue reading...




Game and Fish wildlife habitat management areas beginning to close for winter

Many of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Wildlife Habitat Management Areas (WHMA) are closing to provide protections for wildlife on their winter ranges. The majority of WHMAs close or have restrictions for the winter annually.

Continue reading...




Springer Special Pheasant Hunt looks back on 45th year

For the first Springer Special Pheasant Hunt in 1973, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department stocked 2,821 pheasants. The 806 hunters that took part harvested 1,346 birds. 

Continue reading...




Chronic wasting disease detected in Grand Teton National Park

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Health Laboratory has confirmed that an adult buck mule deer from Grand Teton National Park has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. 

Continue reading...




Thanksgiving puts spotlight on Wyoming’s bright turkey history

It wasn’t until 1955 when hunters could harvest the historic wild turkey in Wyoming. Hunters’ interest has continued to gain momentum since.

Continue reading...






Game and Fish Commission invests in mule deer habitat and migration research

Commission also directs agency to draft new regulation for technologies

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