This year was my first year participating in the Nocturnal Owl Survey. I have been wanting to do it for a couple of years, but I had never really gotten around to it. This year however, I started my own two routes near home, and I am really looking forward to doing them this weekend! I went on my very first survey ever with Jukka Jantunen, who is currently in possession of 3 owl routes (soon to be 4) in the Yukon. I tagged along with him as he went on his first route of the spring down the Tagish Road a week ago, just a short distance from my home in Tagish. On our second stop, I heard my very first Boreal Owl singing. I had always wanted to hear one; I thought it was a great start to the night. Futher down the road we stopped to listen again for 2 minutes (2 minutes is the standard time to listen in the owl survey) and heard three Great Horned Owls. Two were males calling back and forth. The third was a female, barking out a contact call to the nearest male. I knew that owls make weird sounds like that, but I had always heard it on recordings. Hearing it in “real life” was much different! The night ended with a total of 2 Boreal Owls, and 6 Great Horned Owls.
Last Sunday night, we went out again to try a new route. It is not currently a route of Jukka’s, though he would like to make it one of his official routes. This route started just before the B.C/Y.T border past Teslin, and ended near the edge of Teslin. We stopped 25 times in all, travelling 1.6km in between each stop, and listened for a minimum of 2 minutes at each stop. That night we heard 26 owls of two different species! There was a very high concentration of Boreal Owls with a count of twenty-one, as well as five Great Horned Owls. Jukka’s notes recorded 14 stops in a row with owls heard, 7 stops with multiple owls, and only 4 stops with no owls heard. On one stop, I could hear three Boreal Owls calling around us at once. On another stop there were two Great Horned Owls on one side of the road, and a Boreal on the other side. On that night, I heard approximatly three-times the owls I have heard in my life. It was amazing! Tonight we are heading out on Jukka’s last Owl Survey located along the Atlin Road (the Yukon side), and then on Saturday I will be doing my own. I will post the results of those two Surveys afterwards.