May 6th – Symbiosis

Chris and #202 - his BFF (Best Friend Forever)

Symbiosis: “the intimate living together of two kinds of organisms; esp. where such association is of mutual benefit.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). And so it is with Chris Harris and #202, our much beloved and trapped Chipping Sparrow. #202 gives Chris a reason to get up in the morning and go out and clear the traps day after day; Chris, by baiting the trap, gives #202 a reason to go in it… after day….after day.

Despite the overcast skies and diminished wind, which are usually good for banding at Ruthven, the day started off slowly – only a few birds from the first net round. But, portending greater things, two of them were new arrivals: Ovenbird and Veery. We were pretty concerned though as 60 grade 7’s were descending on us at 9:30 (3 groups of 20) and we didn’t think we’d have much to show them. Banding demonstrations without birds can be pretty boring……. However, things picked up in the second half of the morning – right about the time the buses pulled in. As it turned out we had plenty: banded 51 and retrapped 39 (including, of course, #202).

We had a good variety of birds around the site today – 72 species, including 8 species of warblers: Blue-winged Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Western Palm Warbler, Black & white Warbler, Ovenbird, and Common Yellowthroat (another new arrival). Other new arrivals included Lesser Yellowlegs and Ruby-throated Hummingbird (the day after we put out their feeders). However, we didn’t have a lot of birds – many of the 72 were represented by only one individual. Usually by this time we have 30-40 Yellow Warblers checking out the site. Today we had difficulty turning up 4. We’re not going to see bigger numbers until the trees bud out bringing their wide array of insects/bird food.

Banded 51:
1 Mourning Dove
1 House Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Veery
2 Gray Catbirds
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Myrtle Warbler
2 Western Palm Warblers
1 Black & white Warbler
1 Ovenbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
8 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrows
7 White-throated Sparrows
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
9 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 39:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Tree Swallow
2 Brown Creepers
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Indigo Bunting
2 American Tree Sparrows (what are these guys still doing here!?)
11 Chipping Sparrows
5 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Red-winged Blackbird
5 Brown-headed Cowbirds
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 72 spp.

Today’s Gallery

Male Scarlet Tanager in the Potters' Cayuga back yard. -Chickie Potter

Western Palm Warbler - the most common warbler I see in Cuba.

Male Common Yellowthroat - 1st for the year. - Caleb Scholtens

A Killdeer; well camouflaged against a gravel background. -Caleb Scholtens

A striking White-crowned Sparrow


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