Saw-Whet Owl Program

Since 1997, the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art has been a leader in the effort to learn more about the northern saw-whet owl, the East’s smallest owl and one of its most charming wild animals.

Each autumn, the center’s team of trained researchers and volunteers harmlessly catch, band and release hundreds of these tiny raptors at three banding stations in central Pennsylvania, luring them into nearly invisible mist nets by playing a recording of the owl’s weird, tooting call. The center also plays a key role in coordinating an informal network of more than 120 owl banding stations across North America.

In the process, they’ve helped map the movements of a species so secretive that most avid birders have never glimpsed one – an owl that was, until recently, considered quite rare.

On this site you can learn more about these enigmatic birds, about the center’s on-going research project, how to become a research volunteer, and how you can support the center’s work by adopting an owl yourself.

Also, check out the blog by project coordinator Scott Weidensaul, both updated regularly during the fall and winter research season.

Watch some exciting videos about owl banding by clicking here!


Ned Smith Center