A lovely day yesterday was followed by heavy rain during the night and showers throughout most of today. Winter resident juncos and tree sparrows made up the bulk of the 67 birds caught yesterday. We banded 4 birds today after we opened 2 nets and a couple of traps for an hour during a lull in the rain. This ran our banding total for October up to 3,201 birds – a new record. Over a third of this total was comprised of Cedar Waxwings!! The totals for both October and waxwings are records.
This does not mean that there are more birds passing through the site. Our birds per 100 net hours – 70.1 – is in the middle of the pack. It’s just that we had many more net hours this year than in previous years. From a statistical viewpoint, it isn’t a good thing to vary your net hours (or any other factor for that matter) but, since I retired, I have increased the number of nets (since I don’t have to run off to work any more). The current net array will remain static for the years to come and the net hours which they generate should remain about the same in the coming years making for better comparisons.
Doing the census along the River Trail, I was struck by how it has been changed by the beavers, which have built a lodge along the shore. The river flats had been growing in with Black Walnuts but much of it has now been opened up as these industrious little (well, not so little) rodents have taken down over 100 trees ranging from 1 inch to 6 inches in diameter (2.5 cm. to 15 cm.).
With most of the leaves gone, I was also struck by the numerous wild grape clusters that remain and are now visible. There will be lots of food for overwintering birds this winter! It would take a fabled flock of Passenger Pigeons to eat all of them now.
Doing the census, I felt that the end of the migration is upon us. Juncos and tree sparrows have swollen the ranks but Yellow-rumped Warblers have passed through (I saw only 2) and White-throated Sparrows have diminished (I estimated there were maybe 35 around the site. Even the huge flocks of grackles, blackbirds and starlings are gone. Winter can’t be far behind….and Snow Buntings.
We had a couple of interesting retraps in the last two days:
– a male American Goldfinch, originally banded in May 2009, was recaught on October 17th and again on the 30th; it had not been encountered during the intervening years. (I wonder where it had been……)
-an American Tree Sparrow, originally banded in March 2011, was recaught today; it was last caught in February of 2012. It has remained true to Ruthven as its Winter home.
Note: Nancy will be banding Northern Saw-whet Owls on Saturday night if you’re interested in joining her.
October 30; Banded 67:
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Hermit Thrushes
4 American Robins
11 American Tree Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrows
8 White-throated Sparrows
32 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 American Goldfinches
ET’s: 37 spp.
October 31; Banded 4:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
ET’s: 24 spp.