If you were to perform a Google search to determine the longest recorded lifespan for a Barred Owl you’ll discover a plethora of sources all claiming 18 years, 3 months as the well established longevity record for this avian species (found in the wild). That is until recently when two Faribault area men, acting independently, made an effort to set the new record straight.
This is a story about the beginning and the end for one of nature’s creatures. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information about what this Barred Owl did during the course of its lifetime, but there’s plenty to prove this particular Barred Owl was no ordinary bird.
It started back on May 24th, 1986, Forest Strnad and a friend visiting from England were hiking in an area now known as the River Bend Nature Center on the southeast side of Faribault, Minnesota. As they were walking along, the two friends suddenly observed a Barred Owl quickly fly out of a tree cavity. As a Federally Licensed Bird Bander, Strnad decided to climb up the tree where he eventually found three nestling Barred Owls.
One by one he removed the young birds and brought them to the ground where he banded and recorded his amazing discovery. Once banded, they were carefully returned to the tree thinking it to be a long-shot they would hear about these birds ever again.
Such is the life of a bird bander. You leave your mark on a bird with the hopes that someday an interesting story will develop. In the case of a migratory bird perhaps it will fly thousands of miles away when it is next discovered. In the case of a Barred Owl, movement is rather minimal over its lifetime so seeing a bird travel even 20 or 30 miles might be an extraordinary circumstance.
Yet, in the case of Barred Owl carrying the band numbered 0667–95412, documented distance is not what made this bird’s discovery so unusual. Instead, it was the Barred Owl’s age which shattered the previous longevity record by nearly six years. In fact, a Barred Owl living for almost 24 years is unheard of even in captivity.
But this story doesn’t get written without another critical participant. Faribault Fire Captain, Todd Rost, was working during June 2010 on a drowning recovery detail along the Cannon River when he witnessed a somewhat usual sight while kayaking. There, floating in the water, was a tangled mess of feathers and monofilament line.
Rost contacted me about his discovery concerned about how wildlife can suffer when humans are careless about our trash. Subsequent to that contact, I blogged about his discovery a year ago which can be read HERE.
Honestly, we thought the story would end there figuring Rost had discovered a banded bird that succumbed to an unfortunate fate due to discarded fishing line. Yet, the story was far from over as Rost later learned when he reported on the bird’s band information.
Initially Rost reported the bird as likely a Red-Tailed Hawk because it was badly decayed and the feathers were quite faded and water-worn. Soon thereafter, Rost received a query from the Bird Banding Laboratory verifying information mostly because “we found that age of the bird is unusual.”
Rost followed-up by providing pictures and other documentation to confirm that the bird found was indeed the same Barred Owl that Forest Strnad had banded 24 years earlier.
Today, when you look at the longevity records for owls you will see the new Barred Owl record contains an entry that makes this Faribault area bird somewhat special, at least to folks who find interest in these sort of facts. It also underscores the importance of bird banding efforts and their subsequent retrieval and reporting.
Indeed, it’s an unlikely set of circumstances that would bring two Faribault men together to help establish an important record for an owl that lived out its entire life in the wooded river valleys surrounding their town. Yes, there’s a certain satisfaction for both Strnad and Rost in knowing they helped a local Barred Owl set a new lifespan record having documented 24 years of existence.
As incredible as that fact remains, what may be even more impressive is the knowledge that records show only two owls (of any species) that has been documented to have lived longer than the Faribault area Barred Owl known only as #0667–95412.
As Todd Rost will surely attest, finding a bird of any kind dead and entangled in fishing line is not the desired way to view these majestic creatures. On the other hand, had this particular Barred Owl died of some other natural cause it might never have been found and reported—and that, too, would have been a great tragedy as we now understand the important facts.
Blogger’s Note: If you find a bird of any kind that has been banded, please follow the reporting information on the band or contact the Bird Banding Laboratory for additional information. The information you provide can be critical to those wildlife professionals who research such details. Even if you have bands several years old, the information is never too late to report.
Share your best fishing tall tale at the Minnesota State Fair with Mark Romanack, host of the hit fishing show, Fishing 411 with Mark Romanack, during Sportsman Day hosted by Comcast and Sportsman Channel on August 28 from 11 am to 7 pm. Fair attendees will also have the opportunity to “Spin to Win” on Sportsman Channel’s spinning prize wheel for t-shirts, hats, mugs, coolers and a signed copy of Romanack’s book, Precision Trolling.
Sportsman Channel and Comcast’s booth is located at the corner of Randall Ave and Cooper Street on the State Fair grounds. “Spin to Win” starts at 1 pm and ends at 3 pm. or until all prizes are given away.
Romanack has 30 plus years of fishing experience he showcases in each episode of Fishing 411, which airs exclusively on Sportsman Channel.
Watch Sportsman Channel on Comcast channel 738 in Minneapolis and channel 278 in St. Paul.
About Sportsman Channel: Launched in 2003, Sportsman Channel is the only television and digital media company fully devoted to the more than 82 million sportsmen in the United States, delivering entertaining and educational programming focused exclusively on hunting, shooting and fishing activities. Sportsman Channel is now available in HD, check with your local cable or satellite provider. Acquired by InterMedia Outdoors Holdings in 2006, Sportsman Channel reaches 27 million U.S. television households and is a part of the nation's largest multimedia company targeted exclusively to serving the information and entertainment needs of outdoors enthusiasts. Visit www.thesportsmanchannel.com, follow on Twitter, @SPORTSMANchnl (www.twitter.com/SPORTSMANchnl), become a Fan on Facebook, www.facebook.com/sportsmanchannel and download Sportsman App at www.itunes.com/appstore
In this blog posting there won’t be any useful advice on how to put more fish in the livewell. For that matter there won’t be any interesting hunting tales shared, either. And while those topics are both important on these Club Outdoors pages…perhaps we all need to take pause for a moment and count our blessings for what makes our beloved outdoor pastimes even possible.
This past January I was in line at the Las Vegas Airport waiting to get screened when my wife noticed that directly ahead of us was a movie star. Turned out, Donald Sutherland, was waiting his turn to go through the TSA process hoping, I’m sure, that nobody would notice him. Hiding behind the dark glasses and floppy hat was a man well-accomplished in the TV and film industry during the past 50 years.
Some folks would have been in awe and clamored to get his autograph. Nope, not me…I recognized his desire to travel unnoticed and gave him the respect he apparently so desired.
In contrast, three weeks ago I was traveling home through the Norfolk, Virginia airport and directly behind me were two soldiers dressed in fatigues. They were happy, proud and full of energy. I couldn’t help but notice them. As we were waiting, I turned to them and offered them my gratitude for all they are doing through their service to this country. In a very humble manner, they informed me how the people I should be thanking were their fellow soldiers with whom they were headed to meet. Seems they were coming home on that day after their 4th tour of duty in Iraq.
As I boarded the plane home I thought about the many people I have met in my life over the years who have all helped make this country great. The true heroes and stars live among us in everyday life. They could be parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors or even strangers…but if they’ve ever donned the uniform representing the United States they deserve our deep respect and complete appreciation.
While in Norfolk I got to meet several former Navy Seals who epitomized in my mind what service to this country means. Each had spent 20+ years of distinguished service performing some of the most hero-like missions you could ever imagine. Of course, now they were just regular guys going through life working for a company in the outdoors industry during their retirement. Modest, humble, unassuming…just ordinary guys who used to do some extraordinary things for our country to keep it safe and free.
During this Memorial Day weekend I hope each of you will take some time to reflect on the sacrifices others have given to enable the lifestyle we all cherish. Freedom comes at a great price and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live our lives the way we want to — hunting, fishing, camping, etc.
And while we’re at it…let’s not forget the fine service our police, fire and emergency medical services provide to our communities. They might not be on the frontlines fighting the war on terror, but nevertheless the services they provide are just as essential.
This weekend especially, let’s make it a point to shake the hand and say “thank you” to every veteran(active or retired), police officer, firefighter and EMT that we meet. Let them know we care and appreciate their efforts. After all, the outdoors would be a much different place without their dedicated service to our community and our country.
BEMIDJI, Minnesota — For the 9th consecutive year my fishing group has opened the Minnesota fishing season on Lake Andrusia, a moderately sized Minnesota lake located just west of Cass Lake connected by the Mississippi River flowage. Our past experience has found this lake generally proves to be productive for the opener as we have never failed to achieve enough fish for our much anticipated opening day evening fish fry. Fortunately, this year was no exception.
The day started off wonderful with nary a cloud in the sky and only a slight breeze barely creating a ripple on the lake surface. Perfect morning to head out on the lake with only a light coat and no need for the usual opening day rainwear or gloves. What proved to be comfortable conditions for early spring fishermen eventually gave way to walleye on the move and fishermen guessing what strategy to try next. Techniques that seemed to work 30 minutes earlier suddenly would turn quiet. The key to success seemed to be fishermen willing to be flexible in their presentation keeping a watchful eye to the ever changing conditions.
At daybreak fishermen were finding walleye in 5’ to 8’ depths by drifting over rock points and sunken island areas. Lindy rigs tipped with a shiner seemed to work well early for some fishermen.
As the sun became more intense, plenty of fish were then later marked at depths ranging from 16’ to 22’ most prevalent around the steeper structure drop-offs. Vertical jigging was productive, but nothing worked with any predictable consistency. Throughout the day wind speeds varied greatly and the direction was constantly shifting. The early morning clear skies later turned partly cloudy and at times offered a brief respite from the bright sun.
There were some fish marked on the sonar at depths exceeding 30’, but they did not appear to be active. Later in the day most fish were caught from depths ranging 10’ to 16.’
About the only thing that seemed to be consistent throughout the day was the choice of bait. Shiners were in and leeches were definitely not the ticket—at least not for our group of 20 fishermen. Chartreuse was a productive color, but by no means was this the only effective jig color.
A common complaint among several fishermen were the missed bites which either means angling skills are a bit rusty coming off winter or the walleye bite was a bit light — or possibly both.
The day ended almost the same way it started with near glass-smooth water and clearing skies. Again, with the changing weather conditions the walleye bite tailed off and one-by-one the boats started heading toward our Finn’n Feather Resort cabin. That action didn’t necessarily signal the end of our first big day of fishing in 2010. Nope, instead it meant the fishermen sensed it was soon supper time and once again for the Minnesota fishing opener we were blessed to have fresh-caught walleye as our group’s featured menu item.
We tried this last year for the Minnesota fishing opener with good success so let’s give it another shot this year. I’m talking about using Twitter to share fishing reports and pictures with fellow anglers across Minnesota. The beauty of using Twitter is the communication is almost immediate—right from your boat, provided you have cell phone reception.
Setting up an account is easy, free and takes just a few minutes of your time. Go to www.Twitter.com and click on the “Get started now” button. Enter your name, a user name (this is how you will be seen on Twitter) and a password, plus a few other details and soon you’ll be in business. If you’re worried about privacy…just use a nickname and that will work, too.
Once you have a Twitter account communication is like a two-way street. You have the ability to share brief 140 character messages with the world. Brag about the fish you are catching…complain about the miserable weather…share a funny experience at the boat landing. The point is using Twitter on the fishing opener is like virtual coffee shop chatter. Best of all, you’re not talking about the experiences the next day or when the weekend is over. Nope, on Twitter you can describe the action as it is happening.
If you are using a cell phone that doesn’t have “smart phone” technology (BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, etc.) don’t despair. You can still have most of the mobile Twitter functionality, it just takes a few more steps. Once you have an account—click on “settings” and then click on “mobile” for details on how you can send a “tweet” simply by sending an ordinary text message.
Now, if you want to send a picture from a non-smart phone it gets a bit more involved. Provided your phone has a camera, to send a picture to Twitter on a basic phone you will need to go to a website, such as www.TwitPic.com. This site automatically coordinates with Twitter so if you already established an account on Twitter you simply use that same login information for TwitPic. Again, once you logon for the first time go under “settings” and you will see an Email address which you can use to upload pictures. A picture that is uploaded to TwitPic will automatically appear on your Twitter updates, too.
The process I’ve just described is usually made a lot easier if you use one of the many applications available for a smart phone. Still, if everything sounds way too confusing don’t despair…you can also have fun reading other peoples’ tweets and you don’t even have to sign up for anything.
Within a few days StarTribune.com will be aggregating all tweets using the hashtag #MNFishOpener. What this means is out of the millions of tweets made daily only the ones pertaining to the Minnesota fishing opener THAT ALSO INCLUDE THE #MNFishOpener copy will be shown. That’s why it’s important that when you tweet about the fishing opener somewhere included in that 140 character Twitter message it must also include the #MNFishOpener characters (not cap sensitive).
If you have questions or comments about any of this send me a message on Twitter (@jim7226). You can also follow my fishing tweets by clicking on: www.Twitter.com/jim7226. Now, rumor has it that Dennis Anderson will also be using Twitter this coming weekend. You can follow all of Dennis’ tweets by linking to: www.Twitter.com/StribDennis.
Oh, and by the way…a quick word of advice. If you just landed a lunker and you happen to be fishing at your favorite honeyhole…be sure to turn off any geotagging features that might be enabled. If not, you might just suddenly discover a lot of fishing company appearing out of nowhere around your boat.