October 26th – A Passing Front

At opening time, there was a light SSE wind, cloud cover, and warm temperatures (15 degrees!). As soon as it began to get light the sparrows started to ‘chip’ along the scrubby edge habitat and from the thick goldenrod. When the sun got up a bit you could see sparrows and Myrtle Warblers rising out of the chest-high goldenrod to fly to the forest edges. I think a large number of birds were grounded last night and many came down to roost in the thick goldenrod that borders both sides of the pathway down to the cemetery and covers much of the river flats. And with the sun the visible migration began with blackbirds and robins leading the way. Rusty Blackbirds were a significant presence as well as the usual Red-wings. It just felt like there were birds all over…..all day.

We had 2 school groups and no shortage of birds to show them. I handled the banding demo while Nancy scribed and Eric made steady net rounds. We never came even close to running out of birds.

The cloud, which had lessened a little in the later morning, loomed up again in the south in mid-afternoon and it began to get quite dark. The front was on its way toward us. The birds seemed to recognize this and dropped down to hurriedly feed. Consequently, we caught about as many birds while trying to close the nets as we did on our first round. Again, Cedar Waxwings, whose overall numbers have been dropping lately, threw themselves into a single net (#4) just before I came to close it.

And of course there had to be leaves…..Nancy did a stalwart job clearing most of the heavily-laden nets while I banded. But I’ve done enough complaining. Now for the good stuff:
• We had our highest banding total of the year (168 banded).
• We banded 23 species.
• With 39 retraps we handled 207 birds.
• We passed the old Fall banding total record 3,827 set in 2005. The new record climbed to 3,869 (and will continue to climb until November 7th, our last day of Fall migration monitoring).
• The 4 Rusty Blackbirds we banded (I really like these birds!) pushed our season total to 34 – a new record.
• American Goldfinches re-emerged as a factor to be reckoned with – we banded 45 of them.

It ended up being a long day. It was after 5:30, having done the paperwork, that I locked up shop and headed for home.

Banded 168:
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Hairy Woodpeckers
1 Blue Jay
2 Eastern Tufted Titmice
1 Brown Creeper
10 Golden-crowned Kinglets
6 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
3 Hermit Thrushes
7 American Robins
20 Cedar Waxwings
15 Myrtle Warblers
3 Northern Cardinals
2 Chipping Sparrows
2 Fox Sparrows
5 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
15 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
16 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Rusty Blackbirds
2 Purple Finches
4 House Finches
45 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 39:
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
5 Black-capped Chickadees
4 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
6 Hermit Thrushes
1 Tennessee Warbler
2 Myrtle Warblers
1 Fox Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrows
8 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 House Finch
3 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 41 spp.

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