September 10th – So Where Do They Go?

Yellow-throated Vireo – common breeder at Ruthven but near the north end of its range.

Early. Opening time, in the dark. Thrushes calling overhead and some along the edges. In the Fall, there’s net action as soon as the nets are open so there’s not much chance to sit down, have a sip of tea, and contemplate the meaning of life while taking in the dawn. It’s an immediate net round. And almost invariably the first couple of rounds bring in good numbers of birds. Today was no exception. At least 25 of the 72 birds we handled this morning were caught on the first round. Each round brought in a little less – but every round produced something.

I was wondering about these progressively diminishing returns. Once we band a bird, where does it go? We handled 72; where did they go for the rest of the morning? At 1:30 I walked back from the Gatehouse along the Carolinian Trail. It was a beautiful walk, a vaulted golden-green canopy overhead and all around, but one almost completely devoid of birds (there was only one small mixed-species flock close to net 10). There was no sign of all the birds we had caught and processed. Did they continue to move south through the vegetation, feeding as they went? Did they find a safe place to hunker down and rest after a long night flight or after feeding for a couple of hours? The bottom line though is that by mid-afternoon you would never know that the surrounding vegetation had been alive with birds. So…where did they go?

The American Goldfinches seem to have “landed” – we banded 15 today. There are a lot of these birds breeding in the area. When the young fledge, they and their parents seem to show up to take advantage of our niger seed and black-oil sunflower feeders. We will catch and band a LOT of them, and it looks like the marathon has started.

Banded 61:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush
8 Swainson’s Thrushes
3 Wood Thrushes
1 American Robin
2 Gray Catbirds
3 Cedar Waxwings
1 Yellow-throated Vireo
1 Warbling Vireo
3 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Black-throated Green Warbler
2 Western Palm Warblers
8 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Ovenbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Scarlet Tanager
1 Northern Cardinal
2 Song Sparrows
1 Purple Finch
15 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 11:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
1 American Redstart
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Field Sparrow
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 57 spp.
Fall Banding Total: 458
Year-to-date Banding Total: 3,101

Young male Scarlet Tanager.

The black secondary coverts indicate that this young Scarlet Tanager is a male. The coverts of a female would be gray.

Lindsay with her first self-banded bird - a young Red-eyed Vireo

In keeping with our mandate to educate and train, Lindsay holds her “first” banding – a Red-eyed Vireo.

Bright yellow undertail coverts of a Western Palm Warbler

I think of Western Palm Warblers as Mojito birds – they are the most common warbler in the area of Cuba that I go to. But then, with enough rum they all look like Palm Warblers.

Peter Thoem celebrating a birthday birding at Ruthven.

Peter can now legally do what he’s been doing for the past 10 years – claim a senior’s discount.

Young and adult Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings are just fledging and it’s pretty easy to tell the juveniles from the adults.

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