January 24th – A Relaxed Pace

I arrived at 8:00 expecting to find large numbers of birds waiting for breakfast. With an overnight temperature of -22, they should have been hungry. I was very surprised, therefore, to find a mixed flock of only about 30, which were soon joined by another 20 or so. But nothing like the 200+ I’d been seeing for the past several days. It just wasn’t making sense to me. No matter, the traps were out and I was ready for action. Which I got, albeit at a much more relaxed pace than I had experienced for the past couple of days. But that was OK as I didn’t have to rush to get the feather and toenail samples the project requires and there was no “ringing and flinging” – I got morphometric data on all the birds I banded.

Interestingly, things changed around 11:00 when there appeared to be an influx of birds that just seemed to materialize out of the ether. These acted like “new” birds, that is, birds that weren’t used to the traps. They walked all around them, grabbing any seed that had been knocked out of the traps by their compatriots but were slow to go in. They were skittish and easily flushed. Ithey finally got down to it and then the pace picked up. I ended up banding 49 birds but would have had a lot more if I hadn’t had to leave by 1:00.

Another plus to the pace was that I was able to process almost all of the retraps rather than just release them after reading the band, checking that it wasn’t from somewhere else. Speaking of “somewhere else”: I trapped two Snow Buntings that had bands that weren’t mine. I’m very interested to see where they’ve come from. As I mentioned in a previous blog, these birds have a fairly extensive Winter range – these sorts of recoveries will help us to understand just how extensive it can be and, also, what sorts of weather conditions might influence their movement within that range.

Banded: 47 Snow Buntings, 1 Horned Lark, 1 Lapland Longspur

Retrapped: 32 Snow Buntings, 11 Lapland Longspurs, 1 Horned Lark


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