October 30th – Just When You Think It’s Over…….

Net rounds were a team effort. An age span of (probably) 55 years, but equal enthusiasm.

The day certainly didn’t get off to an auspicious start. I arrived a little later than usual after having checked out the weather and seeing that the temperature was -5 with a heavy frost warning. Free interpretation: nets are frozen and you won’t be able to open them for a couple of hours until they thaw……

Nontheless, I arrived before the sun rose (and the owl banders, who had been skunked, departed) and about two hours before I could open the nets. All I could do was set out and bait the traps for the White-crowned Sparrows and Juncos and then do a census. Other than a pair of Bald Eagles (which Erich had noticed when he drove in), the census was unremarkable.

Gray eye of a young (HY) Dark-eyed Junco.

For comparison: gray eye of a HY Junco (lower) and the maroon eye of an AHY Junco (above).

But then the frost turned to water droplets on the nets and we were able to open them. And the birds are no dummies: they waited until things heated up before getting going. Things were hopping by ~10:30 and we had good catches right up to closing. Nothing spectacular – lots of American Goldfinches (at last) and then odds and ends, but enough to keep you hopping……or enough to keep all the visitors hopping. This was one of those days I really like: good bird numbers at a reasonable pace and a lot of “bird people” (most of whom have been coming enough to be thought of as friends) dropping in to see birds and to talk about them. The time flew. [Sometimes, (and don’t get me wrong, I don’t really mind it) I have to “work” at trying to get visitors/students interested in birds in general and what we’re trying to do in particular. So when all your visitors already have that appreciation and just want to see the catches and share anecdotes, it’s really refreshing.]

American Tree Sparrow - still waiting for the return of a previous year's bird.

Fox Sparrow - one of my favourites. - B. McCreadie

Later in the afternoon, we did have one exciting sighting: a Golden Eagle went over! This was only the second one I’ve seen here since ’95.

Bald Eagle at dawn. A second one had flown off just before taking the picture.

As many of you are aware, one of our main interests here is to train people in the skills of bird banding and identification. (As I’ve made clear many times, this allows me to sit back and be slothful….and eat muffins……there’s a plan here.) Today’s team – Joanne, Erich and Bev with help from Zach and his dad, Igor – did a great job.

Today's team - the folks that did most of the banding while I ate the muffins....

A late-lingering Nashville Warbler.

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like to be the person that “discovered” a super-talent; say the person that scouted Wayne Gretzky or found Yo Yo Mah. Well I sort of felt like that today – Joanne did her first net extractions and went 12 for 12!! Amazing!

Banded 71:
3 Mourning Doves
2 Blue Jays
7 American Robins
12 Cedar Waxwings
4 American Tree Sparrows
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
7 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 House Finches
29 American Goldfinches

Retrapped: a whole bunch…but I forgot to bring the retrap cards home…..

ET’s: 40 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 45

A Hodge-podge Gallery:

Daughter Dianne with a Blue Jay.

Mom Dorothy with a......Blue Jay.

Simon with a Downy Woodpecker.

Elliot with an American Robin.

Kim came all the way from Toronto just to hold this Golden-crowned Kinglet.

As did her partner Tony.

Sue MCreadie with a young White-crowned Sparrow.

There's nothing like a full day at Ruthven to enhance father-son bonding: Igor and Zach.


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