October 21st & 22nd – Two BIG Days!

Another fine section of Mac's 2nd year Ecology class (under the inspired tutelage of Lyndsay Smith).

As noted in another blog at another time, perhaps in a different galaxy (I can’t quite recall), the benchmark for a “big day” is the banding of 100+ birds. We banded 103 on the 21st and 159 on the 22nd (our biggest total of the year….so far). Both days were similar weather-wise: W to WNW winds, cool temperatures, and cloud cover. The main difference, and this might explain the increase in numbers on the 22nd, is that it was clear at times overnight and didn’t start to cloud over until dawn.

A beautiful adult (AHY) male Eastern Bluebird.

Although we banded more birds on the 22nd, there appeared to be much more “visible” migration on the 21st. Rusty Blackbirds were all over the place and were estimated to be about twice as numerous as their cousins, the Red-winged. Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers continued to pour through and I estimated their number for the day, conservatively, at 125. American Robins flew in or over most of the day in small groups – I estimated their number at 125. Same with Cedar Waxwings, at 140. Perhaps the most interesting sightings, though, involved Turkey Vultures. In the period of about an hour we watched a number of kettles rise high overhead (with some birds disappearing into the clouds) and counted 220. They were all moving to the SSE.

A male Rusty Blackbird.

Another look at the male Rusty Blackbird.

On the 22nd, there didn’t appear to be nearly as much visible migration: Rusty Blackbirds were down (160); Myrtle Warblers, only 30 seen; Robins, 30; and we saw only 1Turkey Vulture! However, there were a lot more birds in the nets due to an influx of kinglets, sparrows, juncos and some kamikaze Cedar Waxwings – check the banding totals below. [I must say, it got pretty busy what with trying to teach the students AND band 159 birds. So busy, I didn’t get a chance to properly thank Dorothy and Dianne who had brought me a wonderful dozen homemade butter tarts. The least I could have done was show them a Fox Sparrow that they didn’t have on today’s list….]

Caitlin preparing lunch for the banding team (and, oh yeah, the volunteers doing Fall Clean-up).

Today (22nd) was also special for three other reasons: first of all, it was Fall Clean-up Day at Ruthven. Now, as I’m the chair of the committee that oversees the event, I get to set out what all the tasks are that need to get done. But, as I’m also the bander-in-charge, I have to oversee the banding program and, so, can’t do any actual work. However, as I’m sort of integral to this “actual work”, I get to join in the BBQ lunch. How good is that?!

Board President Betsy Smith has a tough side: here she admonishes Gail Collins that she better damn well finish her potato salad or no dessert! Faye, fearfully, looks on.

The second reason is that Lyndsay Smith brought out another keen group from her 2nd yearEcology class at McMaster. This was a hard-working group of students who really wanted to learn…..and they got ample opportunity.

Mac student with a beautiful male Eastern Bluebird.

And third, “old” Mac student, Mike Alkema visited with his lovely girlfriend, Katharine, to show her that he could indeed do net rounds, extract and band birds. Best of all, he brough cookies!

Out of the past: Mike Alkema who brought girlfriend Katharine and (almost as good)...cookies. Mike did a couple of net rounds for us which was both helpful AND proved to himself he hadn't lost his touch.

Numbers for October 21st:

Friday's 103 team: Erich, Lynda, Nancy, Jim, Rhiannon, Carol (Peter Scholtens went home early).

Banded 103:
1 Mourning Dove
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
9 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
3 Eastern Bluebirds
6 Hermit Thrushes
7 Cedar Waxwings
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
33 Myrtle Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
5 Chipping Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
10 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
11 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Rusty Blackbird
1 Purple Finch (1st of the season)
7 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 52 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 75

A "tan morph" White-throated Sparrow (left) and a "white morph".

Numbers for October 22nd:
Banded 159:
1 Brown Creeper
9 Golden-crowned Kinglets
14 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
4 Eastern Bluebirds
12 Hermit Thrushes
24 Cedar Waxwings
5 Myrtle Warblers
5 Chipping Sparrows
2 Fox Sparrows (1st of the season)
10 Song Sparrows
4 Swamp Sparrows
17 White-throated Sparrows
5 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
38 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Rusty Blackbirds
7 American Goldfinches

For comparison: female Eastern Bluebird on the left and a male on the right.

ET’s: 50 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 106


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