May 1st – Brian’s Deep Thoughts

An odd day as it is nearing the peak of spring migration and there was very little about – well, in relative terms anyway, we had 54 species on the day and if we had 54 species on say April 1st we would be floored and saying it was the best day ever.

The Yellow-Breasted Chat was not to be found this morning despite the extensive efforts of Rick and several visitors. Hopefully there was some luck after I left. I’m usually the black cloud of doom in rare bird ventures.

With the unexpected leisure time brought on by a lack of bird captures there was time to contemplate the exact nature of the desire to band birds. One school of thought has it as a vestigial remnant of our species hunter-gatherer past. The analogy is easy with us “harvesting” the birds from the wild and symbolically devouring them – in this case by tagging and recording their measurements.

On the other hand there is thought that perhaps banding is some sort of compulsion, leading to obsessive behaviour. The unquenchable desire to band more and more birds, opening more and more nets. Day after day. Eschewing sleep, proper nourishment, and, in extreme cases, human contact.

As I vigorously wash my hands and type using tissues I reflect that we will never know the true nature of the desire to band birds. If only the clues were more obvious…

Hopefully next time I’m in I won’t forget my binoculars and be forced to use the station pair. The latter make a good bludgeon.

New species for the year were Caspian Tern, Least Flycatcher, Nashville Warbler, and (finally, as they are everywhere else it seems) Eastern White-Crowned Sparrow.

Banded: 21American Goldfinch 5
Nashville Warbler 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Chipping Sparrow 4
Pine Siskin 2
Western Palm Warbler 1
Field Sparrow 1
White-Throated Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Grey Catbird 2
Wood Thrush 1
Blue Jay 1

Retrapped: 28American Goldfinch 2
Chipping Sparrow 6
Yellow Warbler 1
Slate-Coloured Junco 2
Swamp Sparrow 1
Tree Swallow 1
White-Throated Sparrow 5
Downy Woodpecker 2 – one banded as a HY in 2004
Brown-Headed Cowbird 1
Song Sparrow 2
Orchard Oriole 1 -banded as an ASY in 2006
Red-Winged Blackbird 2
American Robin 2 – one banded as a HY in 2005


Leave a Reply