In partnership with the Global Owl Project and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and under the direction of Dr. Markus Mika, HawkWatch International mounted geolocator "backpacks" onto 24 Flammulated Owls (18 males and 6 females) in the summer of 2012 in order to gain a better understanding of migration routes and wintering locations for this elusive insectivorous forest owl. In the spring of 2013, we were able to retrieve 7 of the 24 units and deploy five more. The data collected from this project will provide us with vital information on the conservation needs of an owl species considered sensitive by federal agencies.
These small geolocator units measure light intensity for the estimation of sunrises and sunsets (twilight events). Based on one year's worth of timing for twilight events, we estimated approximate stopover and wintering locations with an error between 50 and 130 kilometers.
Shown here is a preliminary map of the annual movements for one male owl carrying geolocator B726. Although some of the analyses still need to be finalized, this map indicates that the Sierra Madre Oriental, in the state of San Luis Potosí, is where this particular individual seems to be locating during the winter (the strange locations near or over the Pacific are during the fall equinox where data collection and location analyses are typically unreliable due to equal lengths of day and night across the landscape). The other six winter locations were spread out across other southern Mexican states with two of them in Guerrero, one in Hidalgo, one in the state of Mexico, one in Oaxaca, and one in Veracruz.
As we finalize the data and piece together the migration stories of the owls that carried these geolocator backpacks, we will post them here for you to read.
During the breeding season, HWI provides field trips to the research areas and education programs for your to learn more about the Flammulated Owl. Click here to view our calendar of events for field trip availability during the months of May-July.