October 15th – Still Moving

New volunteers Tracy (left) and Ann (with the weapon) giving David what for. -DOL

A cold start to the morning with a frost coating the top of the closed nets and the poles – difficulty in unfurling the nets to start with and then it was frustrating as the trammel lines would only slide back down the pole. White-throated sparrows could be heard as I moved quietly to each net lane in the darkness and I was trying to get the nets opened before they started to move around. The sun’s warmth felt good with the cooler fall temperatures but the wind picked up through the morning causing nets to billow and fill with leaves. (Nancy)

Banded 52:
1 Blue Jay
1 Brown Creeper
8 Ruby-crowned Kinglets

Note the fault bar on the tail of this Hermit Thrush – an indicator of nutritional distress when it was growing these tail feathers. -MMG

6 Hermit Thrushes
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Nashville Warbler
5 Myrtle Warblers
3 Chipping Sparrows
5 Field Sparrows
4 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
5 White-throated Sparrows
9 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 48 spp.

More Pics:

Young Cedar Waxwing (note the “splotchy” breast) eating juniper berries in the large junipers behind the mansion. -CR

An adult male Cedar Waxwing. The age is based on the clear breast and red feather tips. The sex is based on its black chin (female would be brown). -CR

American Goldfinches have just started to show up in large numbers (finally). Many of them are quite young still. In this picture the juvenile male on the left is quivering its wings to stimulate the adult (on the right) to feed it. -CR

It paid off! -CR


October 14th – Almost A Big Day

Myrtle Warbler could be found in most of the dogwood thickets. -CR

The conditions were ideal this morning for a “Big Day” – defined by us as a day on which we band >100 birds. And the birds were there. But we ran into conflict with the annual antique car show which took over the grounds and, after a couple of incidents and the noise and hubbub generated by the event, we decided to close early. We ended up banding 89 birds from our standard nets and another 4 from a non-standard net. We continued to get good numbers of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and White-throated Sparrows and these were joined by a nice “hit” of Cedar Waxwings (which are moving in to feast on our plentiful berry/grape crop) and the influx (finally) of American Goldfinches. We saw and banded our first Dark-eyed Junco today. This is very late. I checked in our old records; the birds are usually first seen in the last week of September with the latest record being October 3rd so these birds not showing up until October 14th is quite unusual. Note that while banding numbers are respectable the diversity of birds around the site has dropped considerably from just a few days ago. It won’t be long until the migration is over…..

Banded 93:

Winter Wren about to emerge from the weighing tube. -AAW

1 Winter Wren
12 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 American Robins
24 Cedar Waxwings

Nashville Warbler….another straggler. -AAW

2 Nashville Warblers

Myrtle Warblers are moving through in big numbers. -AAW

19 Myrtle Warblers

Male Black-throated Green Warbler – a late straggler. -AAW

1 Black-throated Green Warbler
4 Song Sparrows
9 White-throated Sparrows

1st junco of the season. -AAW

1 Dark-eyed Junco
18 American Goldfinches

The Golden Horde – American Goldfinches – is upon us. -CR

ET’s: 37 spp.

More Pics:

The family that bands together……. -JET

Myrtle Warbler –CR

Another look at our first Dark-eyed Junco. -JET

Day of the living dead? No…from a video clip of Ezra trying to do a back flip. It’s a good look for him. -AAW

October 13th – Pouring Through

Liam with his 130th banded bird – Nashville Warbler. -AT

Laurie with her 1st banded bird – White-throated Sparrow. -CR

In the Spring you get the “Dawn Chorus” – at first light singing males announce they’re alive and well and on territory; it can last for over an hour. In the later Fall, when sparrows are on the move, the equivalent is much less dramatic, more short-lived, but just as exciting. When I set out to open nets for the last couple of days it has been dark and, initially, dead quiet (except for a young Great Horned Owl in the background). But at a certain point – when it is first showing some light – sparrows start up with their call notes from the dogwood shrubs or Butterfly Meadow wildflower tangles announcing that they’re alive and well and ready to start the day. This usually last for only about 10 – 15 minutes and then stops abruptly. The exciting part is that you know that if the nets are opened before the “chip chorus” stops then you have a good chance of catching as the birds will begin to move out to feed. And that’s what happened this morning – I had caught 4 White-throated Sparrows before I had even finished opening the Meadow nets and had to go back to the lab to get bags by which time the nets were filling. We had two very good rounds before the rising sun and wind slowed things down.

Although we banded more than twice the number of birds as yesterday (83 vs 40) the diversity of the birds around the site was quite diminished; yesterday we sighted 50 species, today just 37 even though we had multiple Pipit eyes and ears helping with the census.

I think it’s safe to say that American Goldfinches (the “Golden Horde”) have made their return; they’re around both feeders in good numbers and accounted for almost a third of the birds banded today.

Banded 83:
1 Winter Wren
7 Golden-crowned Kinglets
16 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
4 Hermit Thrushes
2 American Robins
1 Nashville Warbler
10 Myrtle Warblers
4 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
12 White-throated Sparrows
25 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 37 spp.

October 11th & 12th: We’re On The Downside

Many “purists” think that banding is all about monitoring and data collection but actually it’s just a good excuse for a picnic and the camaraderie of like-minded friends. -ELO

It’s amazing how quickly time goes by! Here we are well past the half-way mark in the migration. The vast majority of long-distance migrants have moved through – many have quite likely arrive on their wintering grounds – and we’re in the midst of the short-distance migrants: sparrows, kinglets, etc. Sure, we’ll still get the odd long-distance bird but they will be few and far between. At this point, any bird that depends on insects for sustenance is in big trouble. It’s interesting how flexible birds can be though. Many birds that are thought to be insect eaters will take what’s available. I’ve even seen Wood-pewees ingesting Gray Dogwood berries late in the season!

Hoovering up roadside bird seed. -RG

Our “Flock of Seven” Wild Turkeys is becoming even tamer. While we were wondering where they were this morning, Amy emerged from the banding lab with a cup of mixed seed to spread on the roadside (for sparrows and juncos). Right on cue they jumped up over the wall and were on it in now time.

Doesn’t seem too concerned about upcoming Thanksgiving…. -RG

October 11th; Banded 40:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Winter Wrens
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet

Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet. -AG

7 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 Hermit Thrushes
1 Gray Catbird

A late female Black-throated Blue Warbler. -AG

1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Myrtle Warbler
4 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
16 White-throated Sparrow
2 American Goldfinches

October 12th; Banded 40:

1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1 Brown Creeper
1 Winter Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
7 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
2 Cedar Waxwings
7 Myrtle Warblers
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
9 White-throated Sparrows
7 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 50 spp. (including the first Common Loon and Great Egret of the season and a Merlin)


Rayaan (the bird whisperer) with a Red-eyed Vireo. -MMG

Eli releasing an American Goldfinch that had flown into a garage and which Marnie banded. -MMG

Two suckers; the one a banding tick for the other. -JET

Note the white flash on the sapcucker’s wings – a really good field mark. -BGO

Sapsucker doing what sapsuckers do. -ELO

Aliya with a Myrtle Warbler she’s just fully banded. -JET

Feeding time. -AT