November 8th – Teasers

I dropped by the banding area this morning to check on the feeders and replenish their seed. In the midst of doing so I caught the buzzy, rising zreeee of Pine Siskins and looked up in time to see a dozen of them fly right through the gap where Net 1, if it was open, would be. Oh well……

When you start going over the numbers, we actually had quite a remarkable Fall. The total of 3,963 banded (87 species) is our second largest Fall total ever, even more remarkable when you consider the disastrous September – a month that most people will remember for its “great weather” but I will remember as the month of the monumental fly-over. This is reflected in the number of warblers that we banded. On the surface, it looks like we got a lot of them; warblers made up almost 21% of the catch. But when you take Yellow-rumped Warblers (Myrtle Warblers) out of the total, warblers made up only 6% of the birds banded – our lowest percentage. And while I like all the species we catch, warblers are sort of like the spices that make a bland meal exceptional.

We banded new record numbers for a variety of species:
Northern Saw-whet Owls – 53 and climbing (old record was 5)
Red-bellied Woodpeckers – 5 (4)
American Robins – 121 (89)
Eastern Bluebirds – 35 (20)
Cedar Waxwings – 662 (422)
Prairie Warbler – 1 (a new species for us)
Field Sparrow – 15 (11)

The Cedar Waxwing numbers are interesting. Since we began in ’95 we have banded 1,725 of them BUT…63% of them have been banded in just the last 2 years – 662 this year and 422 last year. What’s going on!? Even more intriguing, just 3 years ago, in 2009, we banded only 2. It would be interesting to compare Waxwing numbers for those years from other banding operations.

Perhaps the most momentous day this Fall was that of the Big Catch – when we banded 309 birds, setting a new record by 38 birds. It was just “ring and fling” for a couple of hours with Nancy and I banding, Bev scribing, Matt emptying nets and Carol running them back to the lab. It was a great day.

Top Ten – Fall 2011:
1. Cedar Waxwing – 662
2. Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) – 556
3. American Goldfinch – 493
4. Dark-eyed Junco – 269
5. White-throated Sparrow – 259
6. Song Sparrow – 153
7. Golden-crowned Kinglet – 122
8. American Robin – 121
9. Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 108
10. Hermit Thrush – 100


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