August 13th – Reflecting on the Past

The first time I visited Ruthven’s banding lab was about 5 years ago as an undergraduate student at McMaster University. I remember getting up uncomfortably early, banding a Gray Catbird, going on a census walk with Peter Thoem, and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to hold and see, up close, a creature as fleeting as a bird. I would have never believed it if you told me I would one day be able to band and do that census walk on my own.

As Chris (my fiance) and I removed a pair of Cedar Waxwings from Net 6A this morning, I smirked for two reasons. One being that my interest in birds has spread to him – to the point where he is extracting birds on his own. The other reason being that Net 6A usually doesn’t catch much – this net was put up years ago when I was still a Mac student – there was little vegetation nearby and we have been ridiculing Rick as a result for some time now. He consistently reassured us that it was, one day, going to be productive. Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed that the dogwoods have grown taller than me, become quite dense, and have produced an abundant crop of berries, providing both cover for birds to move through that area as well as a source of food. As a result, we have been seeing this net catch a larger number of birds and some nice species as well. Could 6A finally stand for “Six Awesome”? Fall will tell.

In two weeks I will be moving to Windsor to start attending university again – this time for my Master’s. As I was checking the nets today I was thinking a lot about the time I’ve spent at Ruthven and, as Rick likes to put it, my crossing over from the “Dark Side” to become a “bird person”. My interest has grown to include their habitats, their physiology, and even their molt limits (there’s no turning back now). Some of the best aspects of banding are that I am always learning and constantly amazed at the diversity and beauty of colours, calls, and behaviour – birds never seem to stop providing that “Wow” factor.

I’m extremely excited to be starting a new chapter in my life/career and I am very enthusiastic about my project and the fieldwork I was able to accomplish this summer (with the help of Chris, Rick, Nancy, and Oliver). Though I will no longer be able to just pop up to the banding lab anytime, I know I won’t be able to stay away for long. I’m officially hooked.

Banded 23:
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
2 “Traill’s” Flycatchers
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
2 Yellow Warblers
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Blackpoll Warbler
5 Song Sparrows
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 Cedar Waxwings
1 Downey Woodpecker
2 Gray Catbirds
1 Northern Cardinal

Retrapped 10:
1 American Goldfinch
1 House Wren
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Gray Catbird
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
2 Downey Woodpeckers
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Song Sparrow

ET’s: 39 spp.


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