November 7th – Finish With A Golden Flourish

We have been getting a lot of “old” goldfinches returning – like this male banded in 2008. -C. Jones

This was the last day of our Fall migration monitoring program. Whew! Where did the time go!? We started on September 1st and went steadily for over two months missing only one or two full days of banding – in good weather and bad, we were out there counting and, whenever possible, catching. We had a remarkable run finishing with a record 5,195 banded comprising 92 species. Some, like the Merlin, Yellow-breasted Chat and Hooded Warbler were firsts or seconds for the station.

Plumage detail of a male Eastern Bluebird.

I’ll post more of the numbers in the next couple of days but a couple that jump out at me are Pine Siskins and Cedar Waxwings. We ended up banding 216 siskins, way over the record of 61 from several years ago (in fact in our 18 year history we have banded a total of only 125 altogether). This is an irruptive species, leaving their northern homes in years of poor seed crops – like this one. On the other hand, Cedar Waxwing numbers dropped drastically from a high of 662 last year to 196 this year. This was solely due to the terrible wild grape crop we had this year – or didn’t have. There were NO grapes at Ruthven this year.

But the bird that saw us through it all and whose numbers contributed greatly to the new record, was the American Goldfinch. We banded a record 1,316 of these lovely little golden birds. Interestingly, we also recaptured a lot of goldfinches that we had banded in previous years going back to 2006. And some of these we recaptured only in the Fall of each year, as if they were making a stop at a known feeding site on their way to somewhere else (and remember: some of our goldfinches have been recovered as far away as Long Island, NY, West Virginia, and New Orleans!).

A very late female Black-throated Blue Warbler – she should be in Jamaica by now.

But the most significant “stat” from my perspective was the number of hours that voluteers put into monitoring this Fall’s migration: 1,541 volunteer hours (minimum). Without this support we couldn’t come sloce to achieving what we’ve achieved. Thanks to everyone that helped out!!!!

For Joanne, the Black-throated Blue Warbler was a banding “first”.

Banded 88:
[1 Northern Saw-whet Owl last night]
1 Mourning Dove
1 Blue Jay
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
5 American Tree Sparrows
1 Chipping Sparrow
12 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Purple Finch
4 House Finches
7 Pine Siskins
51 American Goldfinches

Eastern Bluebirds continue to move through the site in good numbers.

ET’s: 37 spp.
Fall Banding Total: 5,195
Year-to-Date Banding Total: 7,780

Noteworthy sightings: Black-throated Blue Warbler (above) and 2+ Common Redpolls hanging out with a big flock of goldfinches in the goledenrod behind the garage.

Photo Gallery:

[slickr-flickr tag=November82012]

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