How does citizen science support your research?
I’m always looking for ways for people to get involved in conservation research not only because it increases our ability to collect data but because it allows us to spread the word about conservation. At least once during each expedition, we’ll try to trap adult owls so volunteers will get to be in the dark and hear the owls around and see how we trap them and band them. An owl in hand does a lot for conservation issues in terms of the resonating power it has for people who get to experience it.
What is your favorite moment in the field?
My favorite times are sitting in the quiet in the dark waiting for the owl to respond to our playback calls and hopefully come in and hit the net. That’s a very peaceful time. Having volunteers out with me who have seen that and experienced it, and to see how excited people get when you get to the net and there’s this little tiny owl that you need to take care of. Grown-ups become kids in those moments.
What do you enjoy about working with this species?
One of my favorite things about working with this species is during the initial part of the season when you don’t know if they are using the cavities or nest boxes and you climb up and look in, and there’s an owl looking back at you. It’s even more exciting when that bird is one you banded in a different year because we know that it has migrated south to Mexico and returned to breed again. Those are very important and exciting moments.