A BEAUTIFUL Spring day! Cold early on and it ‘warmed up’ to only 4 degrees or so but, once you got out of the NW breeze, you could really feel the sun and over the course of the day you could see where it had eaten away large patches of snow.
We opened 2 nets and set out 3 ground traps to sample what was around. Over a span of 4 hours we caught 41 birds. Twenty-seven of these were retraps, many of them American Tree Sparrows. But one was a very interesting male Red-winged Blackbird. We had banded this bird as an ASY (After Second Year) in 2005, meaning that it had to have been hatched no earlier than 2003. This would make it at least 8 years old. However, it had sustained an injury to its bill. The upper mandible had a big notch in it (see picture above). This was an old injury and not a result of being in a ground trap. Despite it, the bird seems to have been able to forage successfully as its fat and muscle scores were good and it appeared to be in good condition otherwise.
The banding highlight of the day was a male Common Redpoll. Just last week, when I was north of Cobalt at Hilliarton Marsh Banding Station, I had seen a group of over 250 going to the feeders there. But down here at Ruthven they’re a rare occurrence. It’s been some time since we’ve had one here so it was a treat. It was the only one around too, mixed in with a small flock of American Goldfinches.
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
7 American Tree Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Common Redpoll