March 2nd, 2008 – Robins are Back, Spring Can’t be Far Behind!

When I arrived at the banding lab around 9:00 this morning it was -8 degrees with 5″ of snow on the ground. Not very Spring-like. So I was more than a bit surprised when I heard American Robins calling and singing and got outside just in time to see 15 of them go winging by. Spring is on its way. (I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised – for the past few days I’ve been seeing a buildup of Horned Larks on the rural roadsides. Throughout the winter I might see a few but in these past several days I’ve been seeing flocks of up to 30 birds – and lots of flocks. Mixed in with them have been Snow Buntings. These birds are all heading north. Friends of mine in Nanuvat have reported Snow Buntings retuning as early as April. Last year we had Snow Buntings and Horned Larks on Southampton Island at the beginning of June. The bottom line: the Big Push has begun.)

I opened the two feeder nets to sample our Winter Birds. There was good activity for about 2 hours until a Northern Shrike entered the area and, suddenly, you couldn’t find a bird…..Interestingly, I didn’t encounter 1 American Goldfinch (our “National Bird”) throughout the morning.

Banded 20:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Northern Cardinal
6 American Tree Sparrows
7 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Common Redpolls

Retrapped 14:
3 Downy Woodpeckers
1 Blue Jay
5 Black-capped Chickadees
4 American Tree Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco

Some of the retraps were interesting:
The Blue Jay was originally banded August 30th, 2004
One of the Black-capped Chickadees was banded Sept. 12, 2004
One of the American Tree Sparrows was banded at another banding station (I will try to find out where)
3 other Tree Sparrows were banded on March 31, 2007; February 18, 2007; and December 18, 2005 – showing, again, that Ruthven is the winter home for a good number of this species.


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