We had some unsettled weather over the weekend which resulted in a 10 cm drop of snow. The temperatures also warmed up to around the freezing mark. We decided not to try to band in these conditions. We’ve found that the traps act like snow fences and quickly fill up when it’s snowing and blowing so, even if there are birds around, they can’t get into them. So we decided just to bait the area morning and late afternoon to keep the birds coming so that today, with the return of cold weather and snow cover, the birds would be present and trapable.
That was the theory. And it worked. I arrived shortly before 7:15 to find 75 birds waiting for breakfast. These were joined by another 150+ as soon as the cut corn was down and the traps out. And these birds were around all morning. We were waiting for our good fortune to come to an end with the arrival of the Merlin but it never showed – explaining why the birds were around all morning. An American Kestrel made a couple of fly pasts. The buntings flew up but quickly returned to the food. With the Merlin present their return would be tentative and they would appear VERY skittish. They know that the Kestrel isn’t nearly as big a threat.
We banded until 1:30 and handled over 200 birds.
Banded: 188 Snow Buntings, 8 Horned Larks, 2 Lapland Longspurs
Retrapped 23 (a mix of Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, and a Horned Lark with a “foreign” band)