October 28th – Lulls and Keeners

Irene setting out breakfast – just exactly what is needed on a rainy day!

Now, when I left home early this morning, I was psycologically prepared to blow off any banding and just keep plugging away at the mountain of data I find myself under. It had rained off and on through the night; it was overcast and threatening at 6:30; there was a stiff wind blowing out of the N; and it was forecast to get worse. So it was a logical assumption, I thought, that data entry would be the order of the day.

But….no. I arrived to find Nancy and her youngest son James camped out on the banding lab floor after catching 5 Northern Saw-whet Owls during the night. I tip-toed around in order to quietly fill the feeders without disturbing anyone. And then Irene and Bob Fotheringham arrived….with breakfast! So the lights came up, the sleeping were roused, and the party began. And at that moment, Carol Jones (aka “Keener”) arrived to report that: “the weather radar doesn’t show any rain for at least an hour and a half, there’s lots of birds around. Shouldn’t we be opening nets?” Again, hard to argue with that logic. So we went out and opened the nets that were least affected by the wind and got back to breakfast. At that point Bill Read arrived – just in time to NOT have to open any nets but with lots of time to eat. The sign of a seasoned veteran bander. So much for data entry.

We were only open for about an hour and a half before the rain started and we had to close up. But during that brief period we caught 72 birds: 50 new ones to band [55 if you add in the owls] and 22 retraps to weigh. Over half of the birds banded were made up of just 2 species: Dark-eyed Juncos (15) and Pine Siskins (14). I’m hoping that the noisy chattering of feeding siskins will draw in some of the Evening Grosbeaks that are being reported coming south (Nancy had some at her house yesterday and there’s reports from a wide range of places in southern Ontario and into the States).

The feeders were being “hit” hard by the siskins while the juncos were cleaning up beneath them. I wonder just how much these birds sense the big weather system that is coming this way and are feeding energetically as some sort of insurance against a prolonged bad spell.

An interesting phenomenon this morning was provided by the Can-Am Racing Car Group that was having their annual meeting and breakfast at Ruthven. Knowing there would be a big turnout, I put pylons in a semicircle around the end of Net #2 to protect it from people parking. For some unknow reason people seem to like to park next to the net rather than use the BIG parking area west of the washroom, 30 meters away….go figure. As you can see from the pictures in the gallery, we can only hope that the drivers of these trucks are not the drivers of the racing cars….

Banded 55:
[5 Northern Saw-whet Owls]
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Brown Creeper
5 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 European Starling
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
15 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 Purple Finches
1 House Finch
14 Pine Siskins
1 American Goldfinch


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2 thoughts on “October 28th – Lulls and Keeners

  1. Hi. I’m just new to the area and came upon your blog when scanning for bird related info. I just have to tell someone about the large numbers of bluebirds in my area this morning! They have been flitting about since daylight, feeding on large green caterpillars – a real thrill for a person who has never seen them previously. Perhaps the storm shook the ‘pillars out of the trees, or they became more evident as they moved away from the copious water now flooding the land. In any case, the bluebirds (as well as other species new to me) are relishing them.

    Great blog – looking fwd to new posts. Pen

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