29 April 2017
We were eagerly looking forward to getting started with our mist netting operation this spring (last year we banded only in the fall) and Kevin and I were excited about having help from a couple of young biologists who have prior experience banding at the Ruthven station in Cayuga, ON.
Please join me in welcoming Heather Polan and Daina Anderson, who no doubt are destined to become valued members of our team.
They came out last night to help set up the nets and were there before 06:00h this morning to get started on their first day of banding at SpruceHaven. Not only that, they had baked banana chocolate chip muffins and brought them out for us all to share - quite divine with my coffee.
The first two birds we banded were a Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula and a female Red-winged Blackbird.
I still need to get into the flow of our activity and I forgot to take a picture of the kinglet, so the image below is lifted from last year's banding operation.
Heather seems quite mesmerized with the Red-winged Blackbird as she held it for a picture.
The shot below nicely shows some of the exquisite plumage details of this species, which breeds prolifically at SpruceHaven.
As might be expected, it wasn't long before we trapped an American Robin Turdus migratorius. In fact, this individual, a female, was particularly heavy, leading us to speculate that she might be carrying an egg inside her.
A male Red-winged Blackbird was a little feistier than the female we had banded earlier - but Kevin's hands are tough!
Heather was pleased to display a Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia right after she removed it from the net.
And here is a closeup of the same bird.
We caught only one Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus today and once again I forgot to photograph it, so here is a shot of this bird from the archives.
We did not catch any Northern Cardinals Cardinalis cardinalis at all last year and Daina was carefully watching Kevin as he handled this species, doing his best to keep his fingers away from that powerful bill.
I think that Heather and Daina were quite content to let Kevin hold the bird for a photograph!
When we had closed the mist nets for the morning we went to check on a nest box which I knew was occupied by a pair of Eastern Bluebirds Silaia sialis. We disturbed the female only briefly and Daina was able to get a photograph with her cell phone of six eggs.
This is very encouraging for us. Bluebirds have been on a slow path to recovery over the past decade or two, almost entirely due to the installation of nest boxes, and to rapid intervention by dedicated bluebird enthusiasts to prevent marauding House Sparrows Passer domesticus from driving the bluebirds from their homes. A typical clutch is four or five eggs so six in this box is significant. We can only hope that the pair is able to raise all six offspring to adulthood.
Despite fairly cool conditions and a little wind we had an acceptable start to our spring season and are looking forward to other opportunities.
All species banded (in order of abundance) - Red-winged Blackbird (10), American Robin (4), Song Sparrow (2), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1), Black-capped Chickadee (1), Northern Cardinal (1).
Total birds banded - 19