I was thinking back to the banding lab last night. It was a good time. Nancy missed most of the goings on as she was trying to get some much needed sleep in the office; the Campanelli boys and Scholtens kids were trying to stump each other on bird identification games; and the adults – Lorenzo, Peter, Carol, Chris, Christine and myself (whew! that’s a lot of people) were shooting the breeze about important issues: when we put in a wood stove, where would it go in relation to the hot tub; would stringing miles of speaker cables around the site and putting up many more nets increase our catch of owls significantly; should Chris start his Master’s on Saw-whets this year or should he wait until next year. So you can see, momentous issues, especially the first one. Of course all of this took place between net rounds….empty-handed net rounds. We didn’t get any owls on the first 5 and it wasn’t until almost everyone had left (including me) shortly after midnight, that the owl team finally got a single bird – a very feisty, older female. Still, birds or not birds, it was a lot of fun.
Perhaps the best catch, though, was a Southern Flying Squirrel!! When we finally get the photo upload problem worked out I’ll post a great picture of it that Ezra took. [Plus he’ll have to send it to me….]
Today I felt like a marathoner must feel when he “hits the wall” toward the end of a race and he realizes that he just isn’t going to cross the finish line with the time he was hoping for. He’s just run out of time or….in this case, it’s birds that I’ve run out of.
I’ve received a number of emails in the last few hours in which people comment on what a beautiful day it is. To their sentiments I say unequivocally: “Bah, humbug.” The clear blue skies allowed the temperature to drop so we were a couple of hours late in opening the nets due to heavy frost. And then the warming breeze turned into a wind that billowed the nets. Not that it mattered, as many migrants have taken advantage of the perfect flight conditions to wing their way south. It was really quiet around the grounds, all morning. So many birds have moved off. I encountered only 1 kinglet, 3 robins, 20 waxwings, 0 Song Sparrows, 0 White-throated Sparrows, 40 Red-winged Blackbirds, and 6 Rusty Blackbirds. Winter is upon us. Oh sure, there will continue to be a few more stragglers filter through but the big numbers are way south of us now. It’s time to get ready for Snow Buntings!!
Some American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos spend the Winter at Ruthven. We had our first returnee so far: a junco that was banded last October as a young or HY bird. It’s home for the Winter.
Another “good” bird for the day was the arrival of our first Northern Shrike.
1 Mourning Dove
1 Northern Saw-whet Owl
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 American Tree Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
4 House Finches
8 American Goldfinches
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
2 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
7 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 American Goldfinches
ET’s: 35 spp.
Birds banded per 100 net hours: 26