IAmA biologist who studies flammulated owls (tiny owls that are less than six inches tall). AMA!
I am Dr. Markus Mika, an avian biologist with a background in ecology, evolution, and conservation. For my doctoral research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, I traveled between southern Mexico and British Columbia for five years investigating the evolutionary history of bird populations, specifically small owls, using genetic markers. I worked on a Northern Utah Flammulated Owl project during the summer field seasons between 1999 and 2002 for my MS degree. After finishing a Ph.D., I picked up the project again in 2011, and have been gathering longterm nesting data on Flammulated Owls ever since. The main focus of my summer research is the investigation on how changing environments and climates may impact reproductive output by the species. In the past, I worked as Science Director at HawkWatch International, leading raptor conservation and citizen science efforts across the western United States. Currently, I teach in the Biology Department at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. This summer, I will lead a group of people on an Atlas Obscura trip to help me find established nest locations of Flammulated Owls at my Utah locations for the 2018 field season.
Here are some links to information on the species, etc.:
Here is a video compilation I made two years ago of several releases of flammulated owls: https://www.reddit.com/user/atlasobscura/comments/80zmzu/flammulated_owls_a_video/
EDIT: Thanks to all of you for the intriguing questions and I hope you learned something about a unique and secretive bird species. I’m signing off for now!!!