April 29th – YWAR’s Are Back…..At Last

First Cedar Waxwing banded this year. Will we get the 100's we had last year?

For work in the field (and then for ease of data entry), The American Ornithological Union (A.O.U.) came up with a series of 4-letter short-forms or “alpha codes” for recording birds rather than revert to the long form or having a myriad of different abbreviated versions. In principle it’s pretty simple: if the name has two words you take the first 2 letters of each word. So SOng SParrow becomes SOSP. If there’s 3 words to the name then you take the first letter of each of the first 2 and the first 2 of the last word. So Great Blue HEron is rendered GBHE. Sounds easy….but the hard part is remembering all the exceptions. For example: CEWA could be Cedar Waxwing or Cerulean Warbler (to discriminate, the former is CEDW and the latter is CERW). It gets really tricky when you come to such combinations as Black-throated Green Warbler as opposed to Black-throated Gray Warbler. Following the rules these would both be BTGW. To discriminate, the former is BTNW and the latter is BTYW. Make sense….? So YWAR is the way we mark down Yellow Warblers vs Yellow-throated Warblers. We found two of them today – back along the Fox Den Trail. Compared to previous years they’re a couple of days late. Ruthven has a large breeding population of them, so these numbers will grow rapidly over the next couple of weeks. But it was good to see them….at last.

Another “good” bird was a Solitary Sandpiper that approached to within 10 m along the shore of the Grand River. He was nonplussed by our presence and just kept foraging along the bank. We also caught and banded the first Cedar Waxwing of the year. Last year we banded over 700 (662 of them in the Fall). This bird is a vagabond and the flocks follow fruit crops. It will be interesting to see if Ruthven is a destination of choice for them this year. (It will also be interesting to see what these frosts – it was minus 3 last night – do to the wild fruit.)

On the whole though, it was another slow day during which we handled only 28 birds.

Banded 13:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Tree Swallow
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Field Sparrows (putting us up to 35- 6 over the record)
1 Song Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Common Grackle
4 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 15:
2 Mourning Doves
2 Tree Swallows (1 banded as a nestling in 2008 in one of our nest boxes)
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 House Wren
2 Field Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 49 spp.

Leave a Reply