April 7th – Off And Runnin’

Sarah with the first banded bird of the Spring season – an American Tree Sparrow. -ELO

Before leaving for Labrador, I had been kind of kicking myself that we had put up only 5 out of the planned 9 nets. Thank goodness we put up just five!!! When I arrived to open this morning I found all 5 on the ground/partially submerged. The terrible weather of the past two weeks – torrential rains and high winds – had taken its toll. We were able to get two of them back up in good shape; another one had to have a trammel repaired (thanks Nancy and Joanne!!!); but the other two were write-offs and we replaced them. So essentially we had only 3 operational nets for the morning. And forget about putting up the rest: the water is much too high and will take probably a week to ebb to a point that we can do so.

Sarah and Eila with a pair of Song Sparrows. -JDF

Joanne giving some perspective to the extensive flooding in the wetland flats that prevents us from putting up the rest of our nets. -DOL

But it was still a good day. We banded 14 birds: 9 American Tree Sparrows and 5 Song Sparrows. And migration was in the air as the day produced 39 species including some interesting ones: 2 Blue-winged Teal and 3 Wood Ducks in the pond; at least 15 Sandhill Cranes; a flight of 42+ Bonaparte’s Gulls; Turkey Vultures (14+); an Eastern Phoebe; a Common Raven; Tree Swallow; couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets; 4 Eastern bluebirds prospecting for nest boxes/tree cavities; a Vesper Sparrow; a Rusty Blackbird.

Sarah and Eila hard at work replanting gray Dogwood. -DOL

We also got a lot of work done. On top of Nancy and Joanne fixing nets and putting up new ones, Eila and Sarah worked hard at continuing our dogwood replanting project. On the south side of River Road, bordering a soybean field, there is a line of gray dogwoods. Every now and again the County workers come by with a side cutter and take them out. So we’ve been “rescuing” them – moving them to the rehabilitation area where we’re trying to reintroduce them to the cleared areas now free of buckthorn. We know from experience that migrants love dogwoods. Our most productive net is ensconced in a dogwood thicket. On the one hand it was wonderful that Eila and Sarah were able to work so hard at the project (between episodes of banding) but that it provided a golden opportunity for them to practice tree planting and get closer to their goal of going to B.C. to do a summer of tree planting. We were pleased to provide them with this opportunity!

While Nancy and Joanne work at repairing a net, Sarah and Eila practice their management skills. -DOL

It was just a nice day to be working outside. You’re looking at about 70 years of banding experience in this photo. And each Spring feels like the first one – wonder and awe. -JDF

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