October 5th – A Rain-shortened Day

The nets were all open early as we knew that there was rain forecast (and we could see it coming on the radar screen). Also coming was a large group of school children – so it would be nice to have some birds in order to demonstrate what it is we do here. As luck would have it the rain started just as their bus arrived. We hustled around to clear the nets of any birds and then close them (except for 1A which we could easily monitor from the window of the banding lab). The birds must have know that the rain was coming too as they were busy feeding low down, getting as much nutrition as possible before having to seek shelter. So we caught a good number before having to close – we ended up handling 92: 65 banded and 27 retraps. Nothing out of the ordinary, mostly kinglets and sparrows (although I’m sure they don’t think of themselves as ordinary….).

At one point, before the rain, a Merlin went blasting over the lab toward the river. It’s progress could be followed by listening to the squawking of the Blue Jays and watching the Cedar Waxwings explode out of the trees heading for cover.

We had a good team again today with Liz Vanderwoude scribing and Nancy checking the nets and handling all the retraps so I could give the school kids my undivided attention (man, they can be pretty tiring!).

Despite the record number of birds banded in September and the good pace we’re running at right now, the number of American Goldfinches we’ve banded seems low. So far we’ve done only 150. Our average over the past 10 years is 500 with a range of 175 (in 2003) to 1,280 (in 2007).

One of the things we try to do each day is derive an Estimated Total (“ET”) for each species. This is our best guesstimate of how many of any particular species are around. It can be difficult. For example, at any one time, at the same time, you might see a White-breasted Nuthatch at the feeders and hear one or two more in the nearby trees. The one at the feeder invariably exits carrying a sunflower seed to hide and is quickly replaced by another. Is this new bird one of the ones that you just heard or is it another? How many nuthatches are there in the area? We checked the retrap cards today – we’ve retrapped nine in the past week and five today. So a guesstimate of 10 nuthatches for the day would not be out of line.

In an earlier posting I talked about the etiquette of eating pie at the lab. Today, as Liz brought an absolutely delicious cake, I will discuss the nuances of eating cake without seeming to be a glutton: the key is to be the one to cut the cake. It is important to cut large pieces for everyone else and thinner wedges for yourself – so you look like you’re not consuming a lot. Then, whenever anyone is looking, you just take little nibbles but you can really chow down when they’re not. Again, you look like you’re not consuming much. If you cut frequent pieces surreptitiously then you can eat to your heart’s content but everyone else will think you’re on a diet. This way I had 6 pieces and no one was the wiser. [We will put her recipe, actually her aunt’s recipe, on the blog when she sends it to me. It’s worth repeating….and bringing to the lab.]

Banded 65:1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Black-capped Chickadee
2 Brown Creepers
10 Golden-crowned Kinglets
15 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
4 Myrtle Warblers
2 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Field Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
16 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Purple Finch
2 House Finches
2 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 27:1 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Black-capped Chickadees
5 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Brown Creeper
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 Myrtle Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
3 Song Sparrows
5 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 American Goldfinch

Et’s: 40 spp.


Leave a Reply