April 27th – Hurry Up and Wait

I think it must have been the unseasonably warm weather at the beginning of the month that set up this gnawing feeling of expectation – that birds of all species were just going to show up early. So each day I have risen early to hurry and open the nets thinking that today would be the day. The day when the frenetic Spring migrant rush would begin. And then, as each day wore on and it became apparent that this wasn’t the day, a certain disappointment would ensue. And so it was today. But as I’m sitting here writing, thinking rationally about the conditions, it dawns on me: “What were you thinking!?” A cold front moves in through the night with stiff northerly winds. What northward-bound migrant in its right mind would buck that to get to the breeding grounds. A much better strategy would be to hunker down, feed like crazy to store up some fat/fuel, and wait for the right conditions before heading on. And so it seemed to be today. There were no “new” migrants to be seen and precious few short-distance migrants to be banded. (And if there had been, we would have had a tough time catching them in the wind-billowed nets.)

Attesting to the fact that many birds had chosen to hunker down was the fact that we retrapped 34 birds as opposed to only 20 banded.

It was a busy day though. We had a “bake off”: Elaine Serena’s orange muffins against Liz Vanderwoude’s fresh-baked (this morning!) chocolate chip cookies. I had to sample several of each before declaring it a draw – how can one discriminate between such fine fare!?
And then we had a group of 45 grade seven students from St. George visit for the morning. Now, early in the morning we were quite concerned that we would not have any birds to work our magic on because the nets were empty and the traps barely catching due to the cold. But as soon as it warmed up – which was about the time they showed up – the nets began to catch and the traps were on fire, to the point that any student that wanted to release a bird could do so (sometimes twice). Many thanks to Christine, Chris and Nancy for showing such patience with them while teaching them about migration.

Banded 20:
2 Tree Swallows
1 American Robin
4 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows
1 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
6 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 34:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 White-breasted Nuthatches
10 Chipping Sparrows
5 Song Sparrows
5 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Brown-headed Cowbirds
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 44 spp.


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