May 11th – Rising Concern

Here it is, well into May, and the bulk of the long-distance migrants have yet to show up – just dribs and drabs petering through. Today we banded 32, which is higher than we’ve had for some time but check out these figures from past seasons:
2002 – May 11 – 95 banded
2004 – May 10 – 112
2005 – May 15 – 105
2007 – May 6 & 10 – 87
2008 – May 14 – 86
These cold temperatures with northerly winds are holding things up significantly! This is the weather we should have got at the beginning of April, not now. And what is the effect of this weather on the birds that are already here? Christine Madliger reports that ‘her’ Tree Swallows are taking a beating – they’ve stopped laying. Further, they’ve left their nests and nesting areas to look for food just to try to stay alive. Christine reported that there were no swallows at the boxes at Taquanyah Conservation Area, which is supposed to be an excellent nesting area for them. I’ll bet anything they were in with the large mix of swallows hunting low over the river for emerging insects that we saw today while doing the census. She showed me one female she had found that had died on the nest. It was completely emaciated. It had catabolized its own muscle protein in an attempt just to stay alive. And the weather, at least in the short run, doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better….
On a more positive note: Nancy Furber just couldn’t stand watching from the sidelines and jumped right into the Ruthven Banding Lab Bake-Off with both feet. To celebrate Christine’s 25th birthday, Nancy brought in a home-made banana/chocolate chip cake. It was right up there with the top contenders. Seeing how good everything has been, I’ll bet it will take a home-made coconut cream pie to take this year’s championship. (Wink wink, nudge nudge)

Banded 32:
2 Mourning Doves
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Eastern Bluebird
3 Gray Catbirds
1 Blue-winged Warbler
1 Nashville Warbler
10 Yellow Warblers
1 Myrtle Warbler
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
1 Song Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 Baltimore Oriole
1 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 30:
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 American Robin
2 Blue-winged Warblers
3 Yellow Warblers
5 Chipping Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
2 Baltimore Orioles
2 Orchard Orioles
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 59 spp.


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