October 28th – 4,000!!

Quite frankly, I wasn’t expecting much today. Yesterday’s wind blew through the night. Initially it was out of the SSW at over 15 knots but around 4:00 AM it veered to WSW and increased to 20 knots with gusts to over 25. This was not conducive to bird movement.

At first light, angry-looking clouds scudded across the sky; it felt like it could rain at any time. My only concern was whether we’d be able to catch any birds for the 2 classes that were coming all the way from St. George. There was no point in opening the nets overlooking the river flats (the #8 “complex”) and I left #1 closed as well – the wind would just billow them to the point of uselessness. So, we started off with reduced nets, our ground traps, and….hope.

What I didn’t factor in was the fact that our copious dogwood berry crop had ripened…and the birds knew it. All day flocks (large and small) of American Robins, Rusty Blackbirds, Cedar Waxwings and European Starlings would fly noisily into the tree-tops; reconnoiter; and then drop into the shrubs below to strip them of every berry they possessed. At the same time, Myrtle Warblers and sparrows were moving more furtively lower to the ground, also taking advantage of the fruit. And American Goldfinches have finally arrived and found the feeders, sharing them (somewhat reluctantly) with the nuthatches, chickadees, and House and Purple Finches.

Some of these birds – despite the wind – found their way into the nets. We had more than enough for the students from St. George, who, by the way, were fantastic! By closing time we had banded 77. Now, we were quite aware that we needed 78 to hit the 4,000 mark for the Fall season, so we stayed open until we got it – a House Finch. But when we went to close, we found another 20+ birds in the nets pushing our banding total to 100 for the day. Who would have thunk it given the conditions.

[I’d just like to clarify my stance around “records”. This has been a “record-breaking” Fall and I’ve talked about them a lot. Don’t misconstrue this to think that numbers are our only concern. In fact, the records numbers don’t indicate much and can probably be explained by an increase in banding effort – more nets and more time put in by the banders. But….they are motivating to the people that have to get up each morning well before the sun and put in the 8-10 hours that the banding entails. Although we enjoy it, we don’t necessarily enjoy it when the alarm clock goes off in the wee hours…..let’s simply say that the chance of setting a record is motivating and maintains interest.]

Banded 100:
1 Mourning Dove
5 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
5 American Robins
6 Cedar Waxwings
2 European Starlings
13 Myrtle Warblers
1 Chipping Sparrow
4 Fox Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
17 Rusty Blackbirds
5 Purple Finches
7 House Finches
26 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 38:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
5 Hermit Thrushes
1 Tennessee Warbler
3 Myrtle Warblers
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
14 Dark-eyed Juncos
6 House Finches
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 36 spp..

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