October 27th – Spatter Hands

"Spatter hands" - a function of Robins and wild grapes.

I spent much of the morning extracting birds from the nets while Loretta, Nancy, and Rhiannon handled the banding and entertained the small group of students from Cayuga Secondary. And when you extract 27 Robins, 17 Cedar Waxwings, and a handful of Starlings and Rusty Blackbirds, all of which have been eating wild grapes, you and your clothes get a little disgusting……

As you might infer from those numbers, we had another “Big Day”: we banded 149 and handled another 41 retraps. Over the past week, we have banded 1,046 birds, averaging 149 per day! Despite the lousy flying conditions last night, we had an influx of ‘new’ Dark-eyed Juncos and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Yesterday, my ‘Estimated Total’ for the kinglets (based on the numbers handled and observed) was only 10; today it was 60 (and this is probably fairly conservative).

A good look at the bill of a Brown Creeper - perfect for picking tasty morsels out from under the bark.

The most noteable thing this morning was simply the volume of birds that could be seen swirling about in feeding flocks, looking to strip the fruit from any trees and bushes they could find. For at least 3 hours, the trees around the site were full of Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds (2,000+), American Robins (400+) and European Starlings (700+) as well as the ubiquitous Cedar Waxwings (300+). And then, around noon, most of them were gone – the silence was almost eerie. It might have had something to do with a couple of Sharp-shinned Hawks that went through…..

Orange in the crown of a Golden-crowned Kinglet identifies it as a male.

Interestingly, at this point the Golden-crowned Kinglets seemed to take over – most the kinglets we banded were caught in the afternoon.

Oh….before I forget: first thing this morning we had a movement of Common Loons go over. We saw 23 of them, most in the first hour right after sunrise. This behaviour is very much like that which we see in the Spring: when the loons are going north we see most of them within the first hour after sunrise. Sitting about equidistance between Lakes Erie and Ontario, this makes sense. The birds spend the night on the lake getting ready and fly with the sun.

Nancy, Rhiannon, and Loretta (who scooted out early) handled most of the birds today - with Rhiannon processing over half of them.

Banded 149:
3 Mourning Doves
1 Brown Creeper
33 Golden-crowned Kinglets
5 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
27 American Robins
17 Cedar Waxwings
4 European Starlings
3 Fox Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow
20 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Rusty Blackbirds
3 House Finches
26 American Goldfinches

An oddity: a white tail rectrix (tail feather) on an AHY Black-capped Chickadee.

Retrapped 41:
1 Mourning Dove
2 Downy Woodpeckers (on of which was banded as a SY in April, 2007)
1 Blue Jay
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
4 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
10 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
10 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 44 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 104


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