January 22nd – A Different Feel

The beauty of early morning bunting banding. Try to imagine distant excited “sheep” notes as the birds see that breakfast is on the way. -DOL

We’ve had a busy two days. Lots of birds checking out the traps, some feeding, others moving on – maybe returning, maybe just heading on. I would love to be able to follow the various flocks that show up and then disperse. Some I know fly out into the surrounding field and sit before returning for another feed. Others head off in a direction and there’s no sign that they return – but maybe they do later via a more circuitous route. Maybe some of the birds that show up at 11 are the same ones that were here at 7:30 and are just returning.

Yesterday I felt that I was seeing many of the same birds throughout the day. There was always a large group sitting out in the winter wheat while others fed and then they’d change places. But most of the time they were in view and going back and forth between the same venues. But today felt different. I sensed that birds were on the move. For example, when I arrived at first light I was met by a flock of 80+ Snow Buntings. They swirled several times around the trap area and then took off into the west. And for awhile there were no birds to be seen. Then they (I think it was the same group?) returned but they were very “flighty” taking off with the noise of each passing car. (This lead me to believe that they were “new” birds as “locals” aren’t deterred by passing vehicles.)

At 8:15 a group of 125+ arrived. They dispersed quickly when an American Kestrel flew in to see what all the activity was about but returned quickly for awhile when the threat had passed. An hour later a large flock of 200+ birds dropped in from the east. They spent only a few minutes around the traps and then continued on to the west.

And this is the way it went all morning. Birds moving in, moving out, leaving enough of their brethren in the traps for me to get a sample. But it felt like these birds were on the move. Coulf it br a response to the coming change in the weather? Sort of a repositioning effort? If it is, the question is: where are they repositioning to? What are they expecting? How do they know? So many questions, so little time.

January 21; Banded 89:
9 Horned Larks
75 Snow Buntings
5 Lapland Longspurs
[Marnie, on Irish Line, banded 121 Snow Buntings on her first day of banding!]

January 22; Banded 85:
13 horned Larks
68 Snow Buntings
4 Lapland Longspurs
[Marnie, on Irish Line – the same one as above – reported that there were 100’s at her site this morning. But, alas, she had to go to work. I tried to stress with her that you get only so many migrations and that maybe work wasn’t that important. She countered with something petty about bills that needed to be paid….]

And as an afterthought: Amy Thorne has now taken over 1st place in the carrot cake muffin with icing competition.

One thought on “January 22nd – A Different Feel

  1. Not sure if this is helpful but I was walking along the Cookstown -thornton trail in Simcoe county yesterday and Merlin picked up the cries of at least one snow bunting. I couldn’t see any because I was in a shallow spot with trees on both sides. But, there are lots of farmers fields on the other side of the trees.

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