October 19th – A Lull Or The Beginning Of The End?

Members of a Rocha with the Scholten kids.

Diversity has been tailing off for the past week (just go back and look at the # of species in ET’s) and the number banded daily has been dropping. But it’s still just the middle of October. So my question is: is this just a lull and there’s lots more to come or are we seeing the end of the migration? In past years we’ve still banded good numbers right up to the end of October, but this year….I don’t know. It just feels to me like the big numbers have past and things are winding down. In fact, my sense is that the migration came through a week earlier than usual. But maybe that’s just me. What I do know is that banding numbers were down today at a time when, given the conditions, I would have expected a much larger catch. We banded only 63 of 17 species. Of course, there’s another factor: the complete absence of wild grapes. At this same time last year we were catching piles of Cedar Waxwings and large numbers of blackbirds – we banded over 650 waxwings last year, most of them in the latter part of October but right now we’re lucky to just count a few on census and we’ve banded only 192 to date. There’s not nearly as much food here for them. But their absence may be contributing to my perception.

Peter Harris with his first banded Hermit Thrush. -C. Scholtens

A very neat thing today though was a vist by Peter Harris, the founder of a Rocha and other memebers of that group. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
A Rocha is an international environmental organization with a Christian ethos.A Rocha, which means “the rock” in Portuguese, was founded in Portugal in 1983 by Anglican minister Peter Harris and his wife Miranda. It is completely interdenominational, governed by a Board of Trustees with wide qualifications in life sciences, relief and development, and financial and risk management. Peter is an avid bander/ringer with vast experience in Europe and Africa and it was great to compare notes with him – and to give him the chance to log some banding “firsts”: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Brown Creeper. This is a group that is doing some great work worldwide – and meeting Peter I can understand why.

Peter Harris and Rick comparing aging-sexing techniques. -C. Scholtens

Banded 63:
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Blue Jay
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Brown Creeper
5 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
4 Hermit Thrushes
2 American Robins
6 Yellow-rumped Warblers
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Field Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrows
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 Purple Finches
1 House Finch
5 Pine Siskins
23 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 48 spp.
Fall Banding Total: 3,978
Year-to-Date Banding Total: 6,563

Photo Gallery:

The Butterfly Meadow in the sunshine. -H. Scholtens

The joy of banding that first bird. -H. Scholtens

With the leaves gone, the nests are quite visible. -H. Scholtens

Hermit Thrush - C. Scholtens

Hermit Thrush. -C. Scholtens

Pine Siskin having a bad hair day (it had just been ‘skulled’) -C. Scholtens

American Robin -C. Scholtens


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