September 22nd – Purple Rain

Just half of the Cedar Waxwings from net 8R awaiting processing. -R. Leshyk

No….not Purple Rain the movie – the rain of purple excrement raining down from the horde of Cedar Waxwings that had thrown themselves into the nets just before closing time. The residue from eating wild grapes.

Rosemary, Ralph and Rhiannon strolling back with only 2 birds - the lull before the storm.

Nancy, Rhiannon and Rosemary carrying back some of the 61 waxwings - the storm after the lull. - R. Beaumont

It had been another slow morning – warm temperatures, blue skies and sunshine. In fact, by the time it was time to start closing the nets, we had banded only about 15 birds. But when I went to close 1A, just across the road from the banding lab, I found about 15 birds in it, mostly Cedar Waxwings. Great! I pulled them out and was about to keep closing when Rosemary and Ralph trundled up to the lab to get more bags, announcing that Nancy and Rhiannon had “quite a few” birds in net 8R. I wasn’t sure what exactly this meant: did they neglect to take many bags with them on the closing round and simply had more birds than bags or…..did they actually have a lot of birds. It was the latter. I arrived to find a pile of young Cedar Waxwings in the net. In fact, when we counted them up later, we had extracted 61 birds from that (double) net alone. That’s one of the interesting things about Cedar Waxwings: they’re a flocking bird; when one of them goes into a net, it’s distress call seems to entice others to check out what’s going on and they often end up in the net too; and their distress calls entice others……The good thing about taking the time to train people is that you can draw on them in busy times like this. Using a “conveyor” system involving Nancy, Rhiannon, Rosemary and myself banding and Carol scribing, it took us just over an hour to process all the birds from 1A and 8R. On the day, we ended up banding 96 birds; of these 72 (75%) were Cedar Waxwings; and of these only 2 were adults.

Processing the waxwings via the "conveyor". - R. Beaumont

Carol scribing; Rhiannon and Rosemary banding.

Banded 96:
2 Downy Woodpeckers
1 Northern Flicker
3 Gray-cheeked Thrushes
3 Swainson’s Thrushes
3 Gray Catbirds
72 Cedar Waxwings
2 Red-eyed Vireos
4 Magnolia Warblers
1 Blackpoll Warbler
1 Scarlet Tanager
2 Northern Cardinals
2 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 15:
1 Mourning Dove
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Gray-cheeked Thrushes
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Canada Warbler
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
3 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 46 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 73


Comparison of Swainson's Thrush (left) and Gray-cheeked Thrush (right). - R. Leshyk

Comparison of the plumages of a HY male American Goldfinch (bottom) and an AHY male (top) moulting wing feathers. - R. Leshyk

Male Northern Flicker, a banding first for Rhiannon. - R. Leshyk

Rosemary learning how to take a bird out of the bag: "..feel around for the sharp end".


Leave a Reply