November 4th – Drawing Down

[For some strange reason I can’t upload pictures from my camera chip to the blog at the moment. So this entry will be a little more bland than the usual fare – except for the picture below sent to me by Jason Manning and which I uploaded earlier in the day.]

I arrived at 7:00 – early enough to band the last of 7 Saw-whets that Nancy had caught during the night – all of them after midnight. It was cold and clear and stayed that way throughout the day, warming up to only 8 degrees. Winds were light out of the N – probably a major contributing factor to the presence of the owls.

Overall bird numbers were down noticeably! I think the only species that showed an increase in numbers is the American Tree Sparrow. And, although we banded 26 American Goldfinches, my Estimated Total of 50 for them for the day is about half of the assessment just yesterday.

So I’m a little nervous…..after a disastrous September, we rebounded in October and had an outstanding month in terms of number banded (2,703). I have a little motivational game I play with myself: set number goals and work toward them . After September and October I figured that we might, just might, be able to hit 4,000 for the Fall migration. After today, we’re sitting at 3,854. In the next 3 days we need 146 birds to hit the mark – that’s just 49 birds per day…….But the forecast calls for sunny clear skies. Rats! That owl team had better get off their duffs….!

If you’ve gone to see the movie “The Big Year”, you’ve seen that, in some circles, birding involves a great deal of one-upmanship. I was urged by visitors Linda and Jim to take pictures of them with Eastern Tufted Titmice so that they could go one-up on fellow visitors Angie and Rob. They’ll just have to take my word for it. [Interestingly, we have banded 17 of them this year – more than we banded in total in our first 10 years of operation. We figure that we have at least 2 or 3 pairs nesting within 500 m of the Mansion.]

Here I am hard at work - providing unbiased and objective feedback on someone's culinary effort in the middle of an active banding lab (photo taken last week by Jason Manning).

Over the years, people coming to help out have determined that the bringing of goodies for the bander(s) is a worthwhile end in itself. The aura of wellness that spreads from a well-nourished bander is wondrous to behold…..More and more I find myself, in terms of the actual banding process, in a teaching/support role. Now, this “banding at a distance” can, frankly, get a little tedious so I have looked around for another role that will be both useful and personlly fulfilling. And, although it has been in front of me for years, I just became aware of it during this year: People want…no, they crave, feedback on their culinary efforts. You know: “Are these muffins too hard? Too dry? Too fattening? Too delicious?” And, since I have considerable expertise in the area of eating proferred baked goods, who better to fill this role than….me. So don’t be put off by the above photo. Good, honest, objective feedback in the area of baked goods is HARD work and it is made even more so when you are pulled in many directions at the same time: sampling muffins, helping people to find answers about identification, aging and sexing, etc. It can be hell. So why do I do it? So the person can be all they can be…..culinarily speaking. That’s a LOT of responsibility.

And here’s another muffin recipe that gets top marks:

1 cup Graham Wafer Crumbs
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teasp baking powder
1 teasp baking soda
¼ teasp salt
1 egg beaten
½ cup veg oil
¾ cup mashed very ripe bananas (ripe bananas can be frozen for future muffins)
Mix dry ingredients together thoroughly. Combine Egg, oil, and banada and mix well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring until moistened. Spoon into greased muffins tins, filing 2/3 full. Bake at 400? F for 15 – 18 minutes. Makes 12 medium muffins.

Banded 58:
7 Northern Saw-whet Owls
4 Mourning Doves
1 Brown Creeper
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
3 Cedar Waxwings
1 Northern Cardinal
7 American Tree Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 House Finch
26 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 26:
2 Downy Woodpeckers
2 Eastern Tufted Titmice
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Brown Creeper
5 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
11 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 38 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 34


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