November 3rd – Time Fluctuations

Our migration monitoring banding protocol stipulates that we have the nets open a half hour before sunrise. Since we have 13 net lanes and 21 nets, it takes 30-35 minutes to open them all if you’re by yourself and you’re hustling. So you have to get a pretty early start. In the Spring this can be a killer as you have to get up earlier and earlier in order to hit the deadline. But the Fall is somewhat of a luxury as you can sleep in more and more as the season progresses. But when it gets this late in the Fall this protocol expectation doesn’t make that much sense. When it’s really cold before dawn – like yesterday and again today – the birds aren’t on the move. They’re more sensible than that: they’re waiting until it warms up before they get going.

Early this morning the combination of cold temperatures (-3.7 degrees) and a thick fog resulted in a heavy frost on everything. Now, this was quite beautiful on the spider webs but much less so on the nets, which took us a long time to unfurl and open. And when we got them open they stood out clearly, being covered with frost, and, so, weren’t going to catch many birds. Further, the fog was so dense that it took the sun a long time to burn through it and heat things up enough to melt the frost – and then we had to shake the water droplets off the nets as they continued to be very visible. We probably would have caught just as many birds if we’d slept in until 10:00 and then got going.

This was all a little frustrating and nerve-wracking as we had a large contingent (58 students) coming from Stoney Creek. Fortunately the birds arrived at about the same time as the students.

As is usual at this time of the year, most of the “action” is around the feeders at nets 1 & 2 and now 1A and around the baited ground traps – the birds are where the easy food is. We handled 90 birds today (50 banded, 40 retraps); 70 (or 78%) of them were from those 3 nets and the traps. And a third of these were American Goldfinches, which have finally started to show up in large numbers. (Where were they in September and early October!?)

Banded 50:
2 Downy Woodpeckers
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
4 American Tree Sparrows
3 Fox Sparrows
2 White-throated Sparrows
11 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Purple Finch
5 House Finches
19 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 40:
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Brown Creeper
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Myrtle Warbler
1 American Tree Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows
15 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Purple Finch
2 House Finches
11 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 32 spp.

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