November 1st – Trajectories

A courtlet of kinglets.

Being out every day, banding and observing, you get the chance to observe phenomenal comings and goings. Birds, like people I guess, have different trajectories – both species and, within those species, individuals. Here’s a couple of examples: on the species level, I was expressing real concerns about American Goldfinch numbers through September and most of October but now, here they are. Three days ago we banded only 2; then it jumped to 29, then to 36 and today we did 51. What has been their trajectory? Some of them are carrying no fat loads and some have fat scores of 3 or more. What are the dynamics here? Will the birds without fat stay in the area? Will those with fat keep moving (and remember: we have had some of our goldfinches recovered on Long Island, east of New York City, in West Virginia, Georgia, and just north of New Orleans)?

Blue-headed Vireo

A late HY Gray Catbird replacing the secondaries on its right wing.

A late Gray Catbird.

And we caught and banded a Gray Catbird today, a bird that winters in the far south and is usually long gone by now (I commonly see them when I’m in Cuba in the Winter). What has happened in its life resulting in its being so far from where it should be? Interestingly, this bird gave us some clues. It had evidently lost many of the flight feathers (secondaries 1-7) on its right wing and was just growing new ones back in. Most likely it had been attacked by some predator, had a narrow getaway and suffered just the loss of those feathers. But this loss would have put long distance flight out of the question. It will probably take another week to 10 days before it will have the feathering to continue with a long-distance migration. Trajectories…….migration is a huge event; it’s trying to figure out the individual “stories” that makes it so interesting.

Sunrise and the start of a new day.

It was cool this morning but there was no frost and I was able to open all the nets right on time. So by the time the sun peeked over the horizon, I was ready. We caught birds at a steady rate – we caught them early and we caught them late – right up until closing time. We handled 138 of them: banding 88 and recapturing 50. Probably because we had such a good crew of experienced people, it didn’t seem like that many. And after the school children had gone we were able to broaden Carol’s experience from just scribing to extracting and banding and to begin to teach Anne (an old friend that went through highschool with me) the nuances of banding. And we still had time for a plethora of muffins and good-natured banter. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Anne Klaus, a classmate from highschool, visited the lab today. Only my bald head tells you it was 45 years ago(yikes!).

Carol banding her first bird.

Banded 88:
1 Mourning Dove
2 Brown Creepers
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
9 American Robins
1 Gray Catbird
7 Cedar Waxwings
1 Blue-headed Vireo
2 American Tree Sparrows
1 Chipping Sparrow
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 House Finches
51 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 50:
1 Blue Jay
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Fox Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
7 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
17 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 House Finches
15 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 39 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 65

Photo Gallery:

Loretta taking a well-deserved breather after doing the census, a couple of net rounds, and a lot of teaching.

Anne with a House Finch that she banded.

A gaggle of banders (or is it a clatch?)

It's really the scribe (in this case Bev Trojnar) who runs the show.

Elaine shows Anne how to take a wing measurement.

Natalie taking advantage of the morning's influx of muffins.

Anne with a Blue-headed Vireo.


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