September 30th – What A Difference A Year Makes!

Last September I was cruising along on top of the world – all systems were go. Naturally I was looking forward to the same sort of experience this year. But it just wasn’t going to happen.

The September 2012 banding experience was one of the best (if not the best) in my banding career. We banded 1,980 birds at a rate of 51.9 birds per 100 net hours (1 net hour = 1 x 12 meter net open for one hour). This September it was quite different: we banded only 885 birds (1,095 less!!) at a rate of only 23.9 birds per 100 net hours. Compare some of these numbers – 2012 vs 2013:
Swainson’s Thrush: 79 vs 54
Gray Catbird: 78 vs 23
Red-eyed Vireo: 94 vs 54
Nashville Warbler: 75 vs 14
Magnolia Warbler: 72 vs 31
Yellow-rumped Warbler: 88 vs 9
Blackpoll Warbler: 135 vs 62
White-throated Sparrow: 80 vs 27
American Goldfinches: 440 vs 9(!!)
I’ve tried to look at this from every angle but can’t come up with an explanation. We didn’t catch birds when the weather was nice; and we didn’t catch them when it was lousy (which wasn’t often). I just don’t know.

The only positive note was that our Cedar Waxwing numbers were considerably higher than in 2012 (196 this year vs 118 in 2012). This is a direct reflection of this year’s good wild grape and gray dogwood berry harvest – last year we had NO grapes. Someone suggested to me that maybe the birds are yet to come. This might be the case with short-distance migrants but most of the warblers I think are well on their way to the distant south.

The Bird Festival on Saturday the 28th was a big success – lots of visitors, excellent speakers, great weather for being outside. The solar cooker, donated by Fern Hill School or me to take to Kenya in January, was tried out and gathered a LOT of interest as Carol used it to bake cookies and Faye to bake cinnamon buns. It should be of great use at the medical clinic in Matangwe.

Following are a bunch of photos taken by Ezra Campanelli and Caleb Scholtens. It was great to see these two young photographers sharing ideas and techniques – the way learning ought to be.

Photos by Caleb:

Photos by Ezra:

Photos by Rick:
2 solar cookers – a manufactured one donated by Fern Hill School (which we baked with all day at the Bird Festival) and a “homemade” one (made with carboard, tin foil and a blackened pot) which we used to heat water with in Kenya.

Manufactured Solar Cooker

Manufactured Solar Cooker

Homemade Solar Cooker

Homemade Solar Cooker

Comparison of Swainson’s Thrush (left) and Hermit Thrush (right):

Swainson's on left, Hermit on right

Swainson’s on left, Hermit on right

Swainson's Thrush on left, Hermit on right

Swainson’s Thrush on left, Hermit on right

1 thought on “September 30th – What A Difference A Year Makes!

  1. It was an amazing day at the Bird Festival. Intersting facts about the birds. I have also noticed that the gold finch is absent from my feeders at home. Hmmm. We hope to stop by and check in on Sunday before our mansion tour. Well done and thank you to all who put on the festival

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