October 10-14, 2021

October 10, 2021 – Thanksgiving banding

We had a somewhat slower day today compared to some of the busy days we’ve been having recently, likely due to south winds the last couple nights. However, the weather was beautiful and we still caught some interesting birds. A fair amount of the birds we caught today were recaptures, suggesting that a lot of birds are hanging around the site to forage, instead of attempting to migrate in the unfavorable winds. We also got some very interesting news today: a Northern Saw-whet Owl banded at our site in Lowville in fall of 2020 was recaptured just a few days ago at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory!

An Eastern Wood-Pewee we caught in the first net round

Nashville Warbler

Sam extracting a Field Sparrow from the net; this is a sparrow we don’t catch too many of.

Rob brought his drone and got this awesome photo of the banding site from above!

Banded at Lowville:
1 Eastern Wood-Pewee
5 Golden-crowned Kinglet
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 Nashville Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrow

6 Black-capped Chickadee
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
1 Song Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrow

Total 31 (of 11 species)

October 12, 2021
We had a rather slow day at Lowville on the 12th, likely due to South winds the night before. However, we still had a nice diversity of species. Almost half of the birds we caught were recaptures, which makes sense with the unfavorable winds.

2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
2 Song Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrow
1 American Goldfinch
2 Black-capped Chickadee
6 White-throated Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Goldfinch

October 13 & 14, 2021
We did our first night of owl banding on the evening of the 13th. We target Northern Saw-whet Owls; a small forest owl species that migrates through our area (and sometimes winters). We did indeed catch owls! 5 Northern Saw-whet Owls for our first night, and we hope to catch more.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

The morning of the 14th was unseasonably warm, and ended up being one of our biggest days of the season so far with 86 birds caught! A nice variety of species for this time of year, but the large numbers were due to lots of kinglets and sparrows.

First Junco of the year!

Brown Creeper

Banded in Lowville:
2 Downy Woodpecker
3 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Brown Creeper
1 Winter Wren
21 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
8 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush
1 Swainson’s Thrush
3 Tennessee Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
3 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
3 Swamp Sparrow
10 Song Sparrow
12 White-throated Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
5 American Goldfinch

1 Blue Jay
2 Black-capped Chickadee
1 American Goldfinch
1 Gray Catbird
1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Nashville Warbler
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Goldfinch

Total: 86

~Written by Ashley Jensen

October 5th -8th, 2021

October 8, 2021
written by Ben Oldfield
Today was another busy day at the Lowville banding site. 85 birds were banded and 10 were retrapped making for a fast pace morning. Ruby Crowned Kinglets were around in high numbers with 29 being banded and an estimated 125 around the site. Below are the totals for the day and some pictures. Liam, Eila and Nola were all a big help with extracting and banding today!

White Breasted Nuthatch – 2
Ruby Crowned Kinglet – 29
Golden Crowned Kinglet – 9
Swainsons thrush – 1
Hermit Thrush – 1
House Wren – 1
Winter Wren – 1
Nashville Warbler – 6
Orange Crowned Warbler – 1
Tennessee Warbler – 1
Myrtle Warbler – 3
Western Palm Warbler – 1
Common Yellowthroat – 1
Swamp Sparrow – 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow – 1
White Throated Sparrow – 11
Song Sparrow – 3
Eastern White Crowned Sparrow – 2
American Goldfinch – 8

Total – 85

October 6, 2021
written by Ben Oldfield

Light North winds paired with overcast skies made for a good day of banding in Lowville. In the 5 hours we were open we captured 85 birds with 74 of those being new. I fully expect these high totals to continue over the next few days. Ruby Crowned Kinglets made there presence known with 22 banded, followed by 11 Nashville warbler’s. FOS birds include a banded Fox Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow and a White Crowned Sparrow observed throughout the day. See list below for final banding total.

Blue Jay-2
Ruby Crowned Kinglet-22
Golden Crowned Kinglet-7
House Wren-2
Swainson’s Thrush-2
Downy Woodpecker-1
Black-capped Chickadee-1
Nashville Warbler-11
Magnolia Warbler-1
Yellow Rumped Warbler-7
Black Throated Blue Warbler-1
Black Throated Green Warbler -1
Lincoln’s Sparrow-1
White Throated Sparrow-9
Fox Sparrow-1
Song Sparrow-4
American Goldfinch-1


Oct 5, 2021 – Fall is truly here!
written by Ashley Jensen

It’s that time of year.. when you can feel things starting to change. The leaves are starting to pull their nutrients back from their leaves revealing beautiful warm colors, cool rainy weather is moving in, and the days are getting shorter. One of the other things that signifies fall is here is a switch in the bird species we are seeing (and catching). We are catching fewer of some of the warbler species, and lots more sparrows and kinglets, which is always a sign to me that fall is truly here. Our day in Lowville started with a thick humid mist, and fairly low visibility. It seems the dense fog kept the birds foraging low, and probably helped us catch more birds later in the day. While the first net run was the busiest (which is pretty typical), it did not really slow down all day! If we had the time and energy, we probably could’ve kept the nets open all day and continued to catch birds until sunset.

Unusually bright crown on this Golden-crowned Kinglet -AMJ

Golden-crowned Kinglets are a regular visitor here, but this male has an unusual amount of orange in his crown! Usually the males have a yellow crown with orange that peeks through at the center and is barely visible unless the bird decides to erect their crown feathers. What a stunner this little bird is!

Banding setup in Lowville

October 2nd – A Nice Fall Day

Blue-headed Vireos arrive earlier than the other vireos and leave the north later. -RV

[I first met Renessa…and her family….a good number of years ago when they would visit the banding program. You could tell even then that she was quite keen. But then she dropped off the face of the earth and when she emailed me in the Summer to see about volunteering as a bander-in-training I said sure but didn’t recognize the name. I arranged to meet her at the Lowville Park parking lot. When she came walking up to me I recognized the face right away but it was sitting on top of a frame that was a LOT taller than when I first knew her. She is currently in the 4th year of an ecology/environmental program at Redeemer university. As well, she is majoring in English as she wants to write about the world around her. So…..I asked her to write something for the blog:]

As an amateur birder, I’m learning that the joy of banding lies in showing up and being surprised. Expectations are unnecessary; it’s tricky to say which species you’ll catch, if the morning will be slow-paced, fast-paced, or a bit of both. I’ve been reading a lot of Annie Dillard lately, and she has a lot of interesting things to say on the power of observing nature. In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she writes, “Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will sense them. The least we can do is try to be there”.

This Saturday was the busiest banding morning I’ve attended at Lowville, with a fast hit as soon as we opened the nets. We were lucky to have eight banders on board, but even still, we had to “ring and fling” in order to keep up with the inrush of birds. By 9:00, banding slowed as the birds settled down to roost. A highlight from the morning was catching a Blue-headed Vireo.

Blue-headed Vireo. -RG

Lowville: 31 banded of 9 species
2 Black-capped Chickadees

Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet (note the red on the head). -RG

7 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Swainson’s Thrush
2 Hermit Thrushes
1 Blue-headed Vireo

One of those “confusing fall warblers” – in this case, a Tennessee. -RG

3 Tennessee Warblers
1 Common Yellowthroat
5 Song Sparrows
9 White-throated Sparrows

Chinook Salmon at the end of the road – they will die after spawning. -RV

Bird migration isn’t the only observable change we’ve been seeing. Bronte Creek is packed with salmon who have finally made their way back to their spawning grounds. From where I stood in this picture, I counted twenty-five salmon directly around me, and I’d estimate there were over fifty in this stretch of the creek.

Shadow Darner. -RV

A Shadow Darner got caught in one of our nets, and we were able to get it out with minimal difficulty. I didn’t have a chance to take a picture before we got it out, but here’s one that we caught a couple weeks ago.

There’s something powerful about witnessing a migration and the way it marks time outside of human activity. Although this knowledge is probably familiar to seasoned birders, I’m delighted by the way banding forces me to pay attention and be marked by the changing seasons. Showing up is the very least I can do, after all, and wonder is its inevitable gift.

September 29th – A Big Pulse

Sparrows have moved in. This Song Sparrow was foraging in the adjacent soybean field. -CR

Last night was perfect for migration – no wind, clear skies – and it seems it went on in full force. After a few days of mediocre catches both sites – Lowville and the Farm – banded good numbers. Sparrows are starting to make their presence felt. Interestingly, at the Farm, where we hadn’t even seen any Swamp Sparrows for a couple of weeks despite the fact that they bred there in good numbers, they were everywhere. Most were young birds, possibly checking out the area as a nesting destination next Spring.

Swamp Sparrow -CR

Lowville; Banded 55:
1 Northern Flicker
5 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Winter Wren
4 Golden-crowned Kinglets
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
3 Swainson’s Thrushes
3 Hermit thrushes
1 American Robin
1 Gray Catbird
7 Song Sparrows
13 White-throated Sparrows
7 Nashville Warblers
1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroats

The Farm; Banded 63:

The 1st Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the season. -CR

1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Blue Jay
1 Brown Creeper
6 Golden-crowned Kinglets
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
2 Gray Catbirds
3 American Goldfinches
5 Song Sparrows

We hadn’t seen Swamp Sparrows for several weeks but today they were around in force. This is a young one. -CR

10 Swamp Sparrows
9 White-throated Sparrows

Young male Red-winged Blackbirds. This species tends to move around in same-sex flocks. All the birds we caught today were males. -CR

An older male Red-winged blackbird letting me know it isn’t happy. -CR

12 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Nashville Warbler
3 Myrtle Warblers
3 Common Yellowthroats

There are at least 2 pairs of Sandhill Cranes that have nested in the immediate area. -CR

Sandhill Crane bugling from the neighbouring field. -CR

White-breasted Nuthatch checking out the bark. -CR

ET’s: 29 spp.