October 27th – Shifting The Bar.

Our first American Tree Sparrow of the season. A harbinger of Winter. -MMG

Every migration is different. Sometimes you get great numbers, sometimes they’re not so great, and sometimes downright lousy. So I try not to go into a new migration season with any outlandish hopes about what I’ll catch and how many. However, as we had such a lousy Fall last year – banding only 361 birds – I tentatively set a goal of 500. Since I was away in September counting seabirds and since Marnie insists that she has to work to stave off poverty, and since no one else stepped up to help out, by the end of September we were sitting at only 96 birds banded (vs the 271 we had done last year…a poor year). Hmmmm….500 was going to be a stretch. I thought about lowering the bar. But October has proven to be simply outstanding! After 2 weeks I thought maybe we should go as high as 600…then 700….and then 800. But as we sailed over that bar today (we currently sit at 725 birds for October and 821 overall) we decided that maybe, just maybe, 900 could be doable by November 7th. Ah the excitement!!

A very grey-looking Fox Sparrow. We usually don’t get this species until toward the end of the migration. -MMG

Of course, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic yesterday when the field edges were “dead” and there was no movement in the trees. I ended up banding only 5 birds before the rain set in (one each of: Black-capped Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow). But today was different: the edges (thick with goldenrod) were again busy with finches and sparrows and kinglets were working their way through the willows. We ended up banding 64! There’s no doubt that Winter is just around the corner though: we had our first Fox Sparrow (which usually shows up toward the end of the migration) and our first American Tree Sparrow, the bird that signals Winter is looming….so get ready. But the bar has been raised! Let’s see how it shakes out.
Banded 64:
1 Downy Woodpecker
9 Black-capped Chickadees
9 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
6 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Carolina Wren
7 Purple Finches
6 American Goldfinches
1 American Tree Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow

Another Winter resident. This is an older male Dark-eyed Junco. -MMG

1 Dark-eyed Junco
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
9 White-throated Sparrows
4 Song Sparrows
4 Swamp Sparrows
2 Myrtle Warblers
ET’s: 31 spp.

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