Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Kimberly Smith

Reader

Lisa Wood

Second Reader

Thad Scott

Abstract

The secretive Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) is believed to be much more widespread during fall and winter than previously thought. Of the few places in the southern United States conducting research on this species, all have been successful at capturing birds. A total of 12 historic records existed for Arkansas until my work began in fall of 2014. The first confirmed record was in 1959 and the most recent was in 2010. Over the course of two field seasons, I captured and banded 24 saw-whet owls in rural Madison County. All birds were mist-netted along a trail, in woodland composed of pine and cedar with fairly dense undergrowth. Two were captured during our 2014 season after a late start and 22 were captured in 2015, likely the result of an earlier start. Comparing my data to that of several other banding operations in the south, it would appear that the peak of migration in Arkansas is late October through early November, with capture rates dropping by early December. Of the birds captured, all but one was female, the most common sex this far south. A variety of age classes were identified, with a fairly even distribution of hatch-year, second-year, and after-second-year birds. Exactly from where the saw-whets are migrating is unknown, although several foreign recoveries in Missouri and four recoveries in Arkansas suggest they are coming from the western Great Lakes region. Once considered a vagrant, based on my research, the saw-whet appears to be a fall migrant to the state of Arkansas.

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