Saturday, 29 April 2017

First Bird Banding of the Spring at SpruceHaven

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.

Daina, Heather
     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


  1. Awesome, wonderful birds. I like a lot.

  2. I am very poorly organised and there is no one to bake banana chip chocolate muffins for ringing sessions. I must have a word with Andy. We do however remember to take photos and don't let any birds take chunks from our fingers! I'll let you off but only as it was your first of the year.

  3. Hi David.

    Beautiful birds are featured.

    Groettie from Patricia

  4. I'd worry about pecked fingers too.......

  5. Hello David,
    Wonderfulls birds, but They would be even more beautiful in trees lol ^^
    Thank's for these species.

    1. Well, you only to wait a few minutes and they were back in the trees, Nathalie.

  6. Hi David and a wonderful post of what appears to have been a very successful day. The Red Winged Blackbird is a beauty but the Northern Cardinal is a real stunner, but with a vicious looking beak. All the best to you both, John

  7. Welcome Heather Polan and Daina Anderson to your turn. Beautiful things to do.

  8. David Nice work you do there.
    Nice also your photos from there.
    Greetings Tinie

  9. Lovely to see the photo's of Heather and Daina.
    What a wonderful, and colourful, selection of birds too ...just beautiful!

    All the best Jan

  10. And congrats on the nestbox far

  11. Great class that measures and weighs the birds' rings. This allows the population to be monitored and the life of the bird itself. Beautiful birds with beautiful colors. I would like us to have so many of the beautiful birds in the Netherlands as well.
    Many greetings