August 29th – Summer Summary

The Summer banding at Ruthven has drawn to a close. We’re just waiting for Wednesday, September 1st to roll around to kick off the Fall banding and migration monitoring program – the longest and most intense banding regime of the year. And one that produces the most birds – usually twice the number (or more) than caught in the Spring.

But before getting ahead of ourselves, I’d like to give you a brief summary of our accomplishments over the Summer.

Although the daily banding of the Spring ends on May 31st, we continue to band on a somewhat haphazard basis through June, July and August. I say “haphazard” but there is some method to the madness: we band on 8 days following a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) protocol. The data we get from this goes into a huge database overseen by the Institute of Bird Populations in Point Reyes, California. It includes data from all over North America (but mostly the U.S.) collected following the same protocol. But for me the most interesting banding starts in July when we try to capture and band as many of the locally fledged young birds that we can. Some of these will be recaptured next year and for years after that, giving us a picture of the birds that breed at Ruthven.

Another project Nancy Furber and I started this Summer is banding Barn Swallows. This bird is in decline world-wide and no one seems to understand why. We’re just getting in on the ground floor but once we work the bugs out in terms of capturing them and monitoring their nests (and nesting effort) we might be able to ask and answer some interesting questions. (We’ve also talked about the possibility of extending some of this research effort to the Purple Martin colony that went through its first successful season at Ruthven. If they return next year, we may think about it some more…).

On a practical note, we extended Net Lane #8 so that rather than being a single 12 m net it is now a chain of nets running across the river flats to the river. I want to see if there’s any difference in the makeup of birds using the upland areas of the site versus the river corridor. We’ll see.

It was a great help to have Nancy, Christine Madliger and Chris Harris around for much of the Summer. They did much of the banding in my absence (and when I was around as well – I just love keeners….).

For the 3 months (June, July and August) we banded 533 birds of 49 species: 90 in June, 165 in July and 278 in August.

The “Top Ten”:
1. Yellow Warbler – 57
2. 2. Song Sparrow – 50
3. Gray Catbird – 37
4. American Goldfinch – 35 (testifying to the fact it’s a late nester)
5. Cedar Waxwing – 22
6. House Wren – 20
7. Black-capped Chickadee – 17
8. Eastern Wood Pewee – 16
9. Traill’s Flycatcher – 16
10. Blue-winged Warbler – 14 (plus one Brewster’s Warbler)
11. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 14


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