Saturday, 20 August 2016

A Successful Morning's Banding

20 August 2016

     Last week we launched our mist net operation at SpruceHaven, but did not have an auspicious start, due to heavy rain at the outset and the fact that we had to set up the nets before starting to band birds. At most we got in an hour of actual banding, so today was effectively the first day's activity.
     As usual, Kevin Grundy, our distinguished and highly professional bander was in charge, and we were impressed (and very happy) with the results we had. Kevin's friend, George Hentsch, came to help us this morning and we appreciated his assistance.
     Song Sparrows Melopsiza melodia have obviously had a very successful breeding season and, as expected, they predominated in captures. This hatch year bird was retrieved from the first circuit of the nets.

     American Goldfinch Spinus tristis is a common resident bird and they are still breeding, spurred on by the prolific crop of thistle seeds.

     One of the ways we determine the sex and breeding status of a bird is to examine it for the presence of a brood patch, that area of bare skin whereby the incubating female transfers body heat to the eggs.
     The brood patch is very evident on this female American Goldfinch.

     We know that House Wrens Troglodytes aedon bred successfully since they fledged young from one of our nest boxes, and we were not surprised to capture young birds fresh from the nest.

     We were delighted to capture a migrating Black-and-White Warbler Mniotilta varia and here Kevin consults the bird bander's bible to check on the finer points of aging and sexing.

     Black-and-White Warbler is quite distinct and is impossible to confuse with any other warbler. In habits it mimics a nuthatch.

     In addition to capturing juvenile Song Sparrows we also netted several adults, all of which now carry identifying bands, their vital statistics having been measured and recorded.

     A Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica was the second species of migratory warbler we captured this morning.

     We wish this first year female favourable winds on its journey south to as far as northern Ecuador.
     A Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea, captured and banded, is a cause for celebration, although in the fall the males do not feature their stunning and highly distinctive breeding plumage.

     We captured the first Empidonax flycatcher of the season and were very happy that it was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventri, a species banded relatively infrequently.

     Baltimore Orioles Icterus galbula have been a fixture at SpruceHaven since spring, so it was no surprise when this bird was captured.

     Our last capture of the day was a Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus on our final round of the nets to close them up. This bird has two colour variants - Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted - and it is easy to identify this bird as a Yellow-shafted Flicker.

     Rare among woodpeckers, the flicker feeds primarily on the ground, on ants, and it is clear from the mud on this male's bill it has been digging in the soil in search of food.

     This was a great start to our bird banding operation at SpruceHaven and as the seasons moves along and the pace of migration increases we have only bigger and better successes to look forward to.

All species banded: Northern Flicker 1), Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (1), Black-capped Chickadee (3) Barn Swallow (1), House Wren (3), American Goldfinch (2), Black-and-white Warbler (1), Chestnut-sided Warbler (1), Baltimore Oriole (1), Song Sparrow (16), Scarlet Tanager (1). Total individuals: 31


  1. Hi. A truly magnificent birds. Black-and-White Warbler was my favorite.

  2. Hi David.

    Beautiful birds.
    Nice that supervised.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  3. Good work you do David.
    So you also get the best species for your lens, beautiful photos.
    Fine Sunday greetings Tinie

  4. Good Morning David. You seem to have enjoyed a brilliandt selection of birds there, both residents and migrants. Of course the Black & White was an easy one to identify but I may have struggled immediately those warblers that look only a little like their springtime equivalents. My own ringing is on hold for now, as is the birding after two days of Atlatic weather. I look forward to your next ringing trip. By the way, you do not say if you are "helping out" or signed up to a degree of involvement.

    1. I am into this venture completely, Phil, having organized the banding operation from the getgo. I assist at the actual operation and next week I will be getting some training on removing birds from the nets. You are hereby invited to come on over as our guest Ringer of Renown; no stone will be left unturned to make you welcome, comfortable, and filled with joy at being in Canada once again!

  5. Magnífica sesión de anillamiento, que variedad de especies, enhorabuena David. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  6. Hello David, great work David and such a variety of birds you get to see this way. The Woodpecker must have been a real treat to get so close to.
    Have a nice day and lots of succes with the ringing.

  7. They look surprisingly unfazed by the whole process..............except for the woodpecker which looks a bit annoyed.

  8. Replies
    1. Yep, the woodpecker was mad as hell and let us know it. Kevin may have a couple of bruises on his hand!

  9. Love this post and great to see your birds up close which are mostly quite different to ours. The woodpecker does look angry:) Diane

  10. Really beautiful birds! You've done a good job !!
    Happy Sunday !

  11. A very good bird ringing that day, I love the Yellow-shafted Flicker, beautiful bird.

  12. Beautiful pictures, David. So many different and colourful birds in all sizes.
    The pictures of the Black and White Warbler are my favorites, great portraits.
    Gr Jan W

  13. All these birds are very wonderful.... but with Nouskha, we are not very favorable for intensive banding. She'll tell you lol
    Good evening dear David.

    1. Hi Nathalie:
      I know that I will be hearing the stern voice of disapproval from Noushka, but I believe that bird banding still has good scientific validity. I will be doing this until the end of September/mid October so I hope she still loves me! You will have to put in a good word on my behalf.
      Gros bisous,

  14. Hi David, seems you had a successful day, and also some good images, the Northern Flicker is a very striking bird, how come you were banding without Emma the foreman. Regards to you both, John

  15. I cannot imagine being pecked by that woodpecker! What a bill on him!

  16. Dearest David,
    Wow, that was indeed a very rewarding day for banding and what an exotic variety.
    The mere thought of such tender young birds flying such a distance is mind boggling! How can they manage that with their tiny bodies.

  17. Good work you are doing! I wish all these beautiful birds safe migration. The B&W Warbler is beautiful; I don't think I've ever seen one.

  18. A very impressive array of birds and images, David. What a stunning looking bird that Black-and-White Warbler is! Yes, I guess the Flicker would be quite successful at expressing its displeasure!

    LOve to you both - - - Richard

  19. Yes David, I will still love you!!!!!!!
    OK, I wont put in another word about banding!
    Lovely guys, gorgeous species, and this Black-and-White Warbler is a real beauty!
    Keep well and do what you can to protect our feathered friends as long as they are not too stressed!
    Muchos abrazos to share with Lady Miriam :)

  20. Beautiful birds and vpooral the woodpecker in the last pictures I find amazing to see. I believe immediately that dseze is quite rare. Register the birds is also important to do. Thus, we can learn a lot from these beautiful winged animals;-)