Amber and I have been all over southern Saskatchewan and Alberta since early May, surveying for great horned owls and collecting pellets near Saskatoon, North Battleford, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat, north of Lake Diefenbaker, south of Cypress Hills, and Grasslands National Park. We’ve seen and heard our fair share of owls (big and small!):
Angry great horned owl after I woke him up from his nap, north of Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Juvenile great horned owl watching us creep around collecting its pellets near Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Juvenile great horned owl peering down at me while I collect its pellets, south of Dinsmore, Saskatchewan.
Roosting great horned owl south of Elkwater, AB
Great horned owl south of Consul, SK, patiently waiting for us to collect his pellets and be gone!
Great horned owl roosting in trees by Grasslands National Park.
And have crossed paths with a lot of different critters, some of which are species at risk!
Red fox kits peeking out of their den south of North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
Striped skunk posturing while we searched nearby buildings, south of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.
Bullsnake hiding behind a piece of driftwood at Palliser regional park, Saskatchewan.
Ferriginous hawk (SAR) with its groundsquirrel prey north of Suffield, Alberta.
Ferruginous hawk (SAR) shading its chicks east of Swift Current.
Prairie rattlesnake (SAR) north of Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Burrowing owl (SAR) roosting on a fence post near Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Elk near Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Common nighthawk (SAR) chilling on a fence line north of Suffield, Alberta.
Gulls watching the sun go down in Elkwater, AB.
Black-tailed prairie dog (SAR) warning everyone we were watching, in Grasslands National Park.
Plainsbison (SAR) roaming Grasslands National Park.
And collected at least 4 garbage bags full of pellet samples!! We are back at the museum now, and Amber is busy processing and identifying mammal prey remains in what we’ve collected so far 🙂
Pellet samples collected from Medicine Hat area and the Suffield military base.
Amber processing pellets on days when we’re not out pellet collecting.
Pellets soaking in sodium hydroxide (Draino, basically) to dissolve the fur so the bones can be identified easily.
A big thanks to everyone who helped us collect samples this summer, including Shelby Bohn, Melissa Mushanski, Troy Wellicome, Drew Taylor, Leah Kovatch, Kira Roberts, Stewart Webber of Frontier (SK), Laura Gardiner, and Heather Sauder 🙂