April 18th – Expect the Unexpected

Brood patch on a female Northern Cardinal. - J. Fleet

I must say I was a little surprised with today’s banding numbers. Yesterday we had a lot of visible migration and a wide variety of species were present at the site (61 species to be exact) but we banded only 25. Today, with overnight freezing temperatures (there was frost on the nets) and cold NE winds, I was expecting to band even fewer. But, even though we encountered a lot fewer species (only 47) and visible migrants were few and far between, we banded a lot more: 42. For one thing, sometime between yesterday afternoon and this morning there was an influx of American Goldfinches – we banded 16 and caught 13 previously-banded goldfinches. Interestingly, for many of these retraps, this was the first time they were caught this year, suggesting that they had been part of this movement. I have a lot of questions about goldfinches. While some of these birds are evident during the Winter we have had some of ‘our’ birds caught as far away as New York City, West Virginia, and New Orleans! These would appear to be migratory. Are the birds we see during the Winter local birds that are sticking around or are they coming from somewhere else, possibly further north? Are some of these goldfinches, like those in the wave today, birds that have wintered south of us and are just moving through on their way to a more northern breeding area? We need VERY tiny satellite transmitters or more banders….or both to answer these questions.

An 'old' female Northern Cardinal - banded as an AHY in April, 2008, making her at least 5 years old.

We had a number of interesting retraps:
– Tree Swallow – banded as a hatchling in a nest box on Indiana Road in June 2007 (making it almost 5 years old)
– Red-winged Blackbird – banded as an ASY-M in May, 2009 (making it at least 5 years old)
– Brown-headed Cowbird – banded as an ASY-M in April 2008 (6+ years old)
– Northern Cardinal – AHY-F – April 2008 (5+ years)
– Chipping Sparrow – HY-U – September 2009 (3 yrs)

We see Pileated Woodpeckers only occasionally but Erich Bauer saw one this morning just after entering the park.

Erich, Devin, Nancy, & Joanne - today's banding team.

Banded 42:
2 Mourning Doves
1 House Wren
1 American Robin
2 Chipping Sparrows
5 Field Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
5 Whige-throated Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Red-winged Blackbird
7 Brown-headed Cowbirds
16 American Goldfinches

The 'E' (for Education) Team. - J. Fleet

Retrapped 39:
3 Tree Swallows
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
1 Northern Cardinal
2 Chipping Sparrows
2 Field Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
10 Brown-headed Cowbirds
13 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 47 spp.

1 thought on “April 18th – Expect the Unexpected

  1. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I love hearing about the re-traps of the “older” birds.

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