October 23rd – When Will The Nightshift Get It Right?

11 Saw-whets were banded last night!!

So here we are, at the end of another good day, sitting at 99 birds banded. The day shift pulled in 88 and the night shift got 11. Now, on the surface, the 11 Northern Saw-whet Owls (this one-night total more than doubles the number of Saw-whets banded ALL last Fall) may look pretty good; in fact, very good. But…..they’re still one shy of bumping us up to an official “Big Day”. What’s with that!?

Last night's owl team: Faye, Chris, Christine, Allison, and Nancy (behind the camera).

All kidding aside, the Owl Team – Nancy, Christine, Chris, Allison and Faye – had a fantastic night. Evidently the conditions were perfect: relatively cold, almost no wind (and what breeze there was was out of the N), no moon. And the new net arrays worked to a “T”, literally. While this is all true, and may have had some influence, I personally think it was due to the fact that the group “Haunted Hamilton” was on the grounds last night up until midnight and the owls were coming to check out ‘their’ antics. This would account for the team’s success up to midnight but, apparently, they were catching birds right up to 5:30 AM when they finally closed. Great going folks!!

Chris was up through the entire night - but it looks like it was worth it.

Christine looking perky at 3:00 AM....so is th owl.

[I would like to know what the migration dynamics of these birds are in this area. Are they following the Grand River or, at least, following it in this area? Diurnal raptors, Sharp-shinned Hawks for example, seem to move south over a broad front and their numbers don’t get concentrated until they reach the north shore of Lake Erie, at which point they head west and can be seen in large numbers. Here we see only the occasional one on their southward migration. I expected the same thing with the Saw-whets – individual birds widely spaced – but getting a grouping like last night suggests something else and that the river may be acting as a conduit. It will be interesting to see if this is the case over the next several years.]

Early morning net round. - E. Campanelli

Now for the day shift…we didn’t get a lot of birds at any one time (except for a minor “hit” in Net 9A at closing time….of course) but we got them steadily throughout the day, from right at opening (a White-throated Sparrow flew into 8X before I had even finished opening 8R) up until closing. And the big net was 1A as newly-arrived Dark-eyed Juncos moved along the scrub/road interface. An interesting juxtaposition was the capture of the first American Tree Sparrows, a northern breeder that winters in this area, and that of a very late Gray Catbird, which should be well south of us on its way to Latin America or the Caribbean Islands. Very noticeable was the reduction in Myrtle Warbler numbers – we handled only 5 and I estimated that there were only 18 around the site for the day. I estimated that there were 125 just 2 days ago. Blackbirds are still around in good numbers, especially Rusty Blackbirds (we banded 5). Moderate-sized mobile flocks of them were moving around the grounds usually staying in the treetops but dropping down on occasion (I guess when they felt the coast was clear of predators) to work through the fruit and seed crops below.

Rusty Blackbird - E. Campanelli

Giovanni taking measurements. - E. Campanelli

The processing of one retrap was ironically interesting. I can’t recall the actual species but Giovanni Campanelli handled it – the bird had been banded originally by Caleb Scholtens about a week ago. These are two young fellows that have great potential (and may just be the future of this program years from now).

Our first American Tree Sparrow of the season - Winter is on its way!

A very late Gray Catbird. - E. Campanelli

Weight of the Gray Catbird - over 50 g.!! - E. Campanelli

Banded 99:
11 Northern Saw-whet Owls
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Brown Creeper
1 Winter Wren
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
6 Hermit Thrushes
6 American Robins
1 Gray Ctabird
11 Cedar Waxwings
1 European Starling
3 Myrtle Warblers
2 American Tree Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow
8 Song Sparrows

Swamp Sparrow - E. Campanelli

4 Swamp Sparrows
4 White-throated Sparrows
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
17 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 Rusty Blackbirds
9 American Goldfinches

A rather pudgy Scarlet Tanager. - E. Campanelli

Retrapped 19:
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Yellow-shafted Flicker
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Hermit Thrush
2 Myrtle Warblers
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
5 White-crowned Sparrows
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 44 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 73

For those who are interested in numbers……our Top 5 to date:
1. Myrtle Warbler – 552
2. Cedar Waxwing – 349
3. White-throated Sparrow – 211
4. American Goldfinch – 166
5. Song Sparrow – 122

A photo pot pourri (as it were) by Ezra Campanelli:

Ezra doing his Flying Squirrel impression. - E. Campanelli

Chocolate chip muffins and butter tarts - it doesn't get much better than that. - E. Campanelli

- E. Campanelli

- E. Campanelli

A touch of frost. - E. Campanelli

Ezra caught in the act - scarfing down one of the best butter tarts I've ever tasted (thanks Dorothy!).


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