April 13th – Lousy Wednesday(?)

Banders of the future? Katherine Moesker, Chris Harris, Nancy Furber, Christine Madliger, and Liz Vanderwoude

When I arrived this morning, it was raw: cold NE wind, heavy overcast, and light showers. Right off the bat “Lousy Wednesday” popped into my mind. It’s the name of a chapter in Sweet Thursday, a novel by John Steinbeck and the sequel to one of my all-time favourite novels, Cannery Row. The opening paragraph goes:

“Some days are born ugly. From the very first light they are no damn good whatever the weather, and everybody knows it. No one knows what causes this, but on such a day people resist getting out of bed and set their heels against the day. When they are finally forced out by hunger or job they find that the day is just as lousy as they knew it would be.”

The almost empty first net round certainly didn’t add to this feeling; in fact, it just caused me to dig my heels in even more. But things started to pick up. Imperceptibly at first but quite noticeable as the morning wore on. And by closing time we recorded our biggest catching day of the Spring so far: 60 birds caught – 37 new birds and 23 retraps. So what was it that turned this day around? It had to be the ground traps. They accounted for 26, close to half, of the birds caught. And probably the camaraderie of the banding “crew”. It’s hard to be miserable when you’re surrounded by good people (and Liz’s baking).

There weren’t any ‘new’ species around but there had been an influx of ‘new’ juncos during the night and we caught 15 of them.

Banded Snow Bunting sighted in St. Lewis Inlet, Labrador on April 12, 2011

But perhaps the biggest news of the day was an email I received from Brian Dalzell, a birding colleague from New Brunswick. A woman in St. Lewis Inlet on the southeast corner of Labrador had sent him a picture of a BANDED Snow Bunting that she had taken the morning of the 12th and he had passed it on to me. The banders in the Snow Bunting Project that we’re involved in here in southern Ontario are the only people I know of that are banding Snow Buntings – and the team as a whole banded over 12,000 of them. Could this be one of our birds!?

Banded 37:
3 Mourning Doves
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 American Robins
2 American Tree Sparrows
1 Chipping Sparrow
3 Field Sparrows
15 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Brown-headed Cowbirds
6 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 23:
2 Downy Woodpeckers
6 Black-capped Chickadees
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
6 American Tree Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow (banded in November 2010 by Oliver Love)
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 43 spp.


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