Sunday, 24 September 2017

Another Weekend of Bird Banding

23 and 24 September 2017

23 September

     The weather is unbelievably warm for the time of year, downright hot in fact, and we wondered what kind of results we might have, given the lack of wind from the north and cold fronts to push the birds south. 
     As it turned out it was not a bad day at all.
     Two new species for the fall were banded, including this White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) caught in our first round of the nets.

     I am sure that by now many of you are starting to recognize Heather's wrist from the bracelets that she wears!
     A Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) was the first representative of this species that we have trapped at SpruceHaven, rather surprising really
since it is a common species.

     We had a few visitors this morning, including Rebecca Seiling who was coming back for the second week in a row, having been quite captivated by the activity last week. I am quite sure that Rebecca is going to be a regular (and much appreciated) visitor to Sprucehaven bird banding activities.

     We were very happy to welcome Debbie Hernandez, a fourth year biology student at Wilfrid Laurier University, for her first visit. Debbie is anxious to expand her knowledge of birds and is keen, attentive and ready to get involved.

     Debbie has already said that she will be back again next weekend and we look forward to seeing her then.

All species banded 23 September: Swainson's Thrush (1), House Wren (1), American Goldfinch (3), Nashville Warbler (4), Common Yellowthroat (2), Magnolia Warbler (1), Song Sparrow (6), White-throated Sparrow (3), Chipping Sparrow (1).  Total: 22 birds representing 9 species.

24 September

    It was hot, still and muggy already, early in the morning when Kevin arrived to unfurl the nets, and we sat for a while swatting mosquitoes before making our first circuit. 
    We expected that there would not be a great deal of activity and true to expectations retrieved only one Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) from the nets, a species which has moved through this area with some regularity this year.
    It was very agreeable, later,  to capture a Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus), heavily advanced into moult.

     Rebecca Seiling was back for a visit with her daughter, Eden, who was captivated by this bird and thrilled to be able to hold it before it was released.

     Eden is only eleven years old but is already passionate about natural history and we need to do all we can to foster her interest further. Teaching her how to hold a bird in the prescribed grip is merely the start of this. Who knows what the future holds? Kevin started to band at thirteen years of age so there is hope for Eden!
     She was eagerly watching the proceedings with her mother at the picnic table that serves as our banding station. Perhaps they were agog at the Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata) that weighed in at 18.4 grams; a "normal" bird weighs around 11 grams, so you can appreciate the huge difference.

     In the picture below Rebecca looks to be saying, "Give me the damn bird!" but I am sure it was something much more benign!

    Kevin is about to depart on vacation and our good friend and colleague, Ross Dickson, has agreed to take charge of matters while Kevin is away, and joined us for a while this morning. What an illustrious (feel free to substitute your own adjective) pair they look!

     Eden was more than happy to learn from everyone.

     Bird activity was light, but there was much more to engage our attention, including this caterpillar of Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) - a ferocious looking creature!

    We will look forward to next weekend, when perhaps the weather will be a little more conducive to a productive session at our mist nets.
     In the meantime we wish Kevin and Grace "Bon Voyage." Come back to us refreshed with many stories to tell.

All species banded 24 September: Black-billed Cuckoo (1), House Wren (1),
Swainson's Thrush (1), Common Yellowthroat (1), Blackpoll Warbler (1), Song Sparrow (3).  Total: 8 birds representing 6 species.


  1. Beautiful images David, it's nice so many friends.

  2. You're a lot more sociable than I am David!

  3. Always nice to see this activity!

  4. A great day -- I always love to see how you and your group share your knowledge and love of nature with the younger generation -- hope for the future. I've never seen a black-billed cuckoo -- what a pretty bird -- it has the longest tail feathers!

  5. This banding program must have added a lot of interest to your life the past few months! So special to have a bird in the hand.

  6. What a lovely looking tail on the Black-billed Cuckoo. And, oh my, that caterpillar is enormous. I'm imagining a time lapse of its transformation would be quite the sight.

  7. I'm impressed by that Giant Swallowtail caterpillar, David. I guess it's well camouflaged by looking like a lump of bird poop. Does it put out those red 'horns' when disturbed as a further discouragement to would-be predators?

    Best wishes - - - Richard

    1. That's right, Richard, The horns come out as soon as you get close to it. It looks like some creature from Chinese dragon mythology come to life.

  8. More wonderful happy smiley faces and delicate little birds.
    I love the Black-billed Cuckoo, so elegant and the caterpillar does look rather gruesome!!
    Have a wonderful week.

  9. Hello, I am enjoying the warm weather. I am not ready for winter just yet. Great captures of the birds. The Black-billed Cuckoo is on my want to see list. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week!

  10. Interesting findings! I really like the Giant Swallowtail caterpillar. Congratulations for seeing it.
    Best wishes.

  11. Nice series you have David again.
    The rings of the birds continue throughout the summer.
    Greetings Tinie

  12. Love that Black-billed Cuckoo, interesting bird and what a long tail. The Giant Swallowtail caterpillar is amazing and wow what great camouflage. Great post but mosquitoes in September! Have a good week Diane

  13. I would love to hold a cute little bird in my hands too!

    1. Then you'll have to come over here, Nancy, and we can arrange that for you!

  14. Thank you for another wonderful series David. And thank you also for correcting my spelling in my recent post. Sometimes fingers go faster than brain and I am always grateful for the help :)

  15. Beautiful experience.. Well-done David..


  16. Hey David are you feeding the Blackpoll Warblers with your croissants? Those weight gains that we see at this time of year, and in spring always amaze me, as does the amount of fat visible under the birds' skin.

    Enjoy your trip to Europe - I'm guessing Spain, but maybe not. I look forward to your travelogue.

  17. At least all eight birds can have everyone's undivided attention !

  18. Needed to google the giant swallowtail and I learned that with its wingspan of about 10–16 cm, it's the largest butterfly in Canada. Fascinating, and the caterpillar is impressive.
    Lucky you to have weather for shorts and t-shirts. :) We had two days of sunshine and then only fog and clouds. My brother is visiting us with his drone and I was hoping to have some autumn colour photos, but it's drizzling...

  19. So very nice to see the happy faces in your photo's, love the one of Eden.
    I always enjoy seeing your selection of birds, they do stay so calm looking as they are gently held.

    All the best Jan

  20. Hi David and another fruitful ringing session with your band of helpers, finishing with the giant swallowtail caterpillar, wonderful image with the red horns out. All the best to you both, Jjohn

  21. Thats an impressive caterpillar! I really want to do so 'bush bird' (rather than wader) banding this year! I can live in hope!! Any updates on your plans?

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  22. Hello my friend David,
    It's also a good night's weather as it's over in the Netherlands after today. Beautiful pictures show you again from the various beautiful birds. I think the caterpillar is very special !!! It was because you said that it was a caterpillar and in the second picture I see the bright red spikes but otherwise I saw that this was a caterpillar !!! Really very special but also very beautiful.
    Dear greetings, Helma

  23. What a beautiful series of pictures of the different birds David.
    You do great work, perfect that the kids are already learning young what to do.
    Best regards, Irma

  24. Hola David, que maravilla ver como disfrutáis de tan precioso trabajo. Me encanta el Cuco, es un ave fácil de oír y difícil de ver. La oruga es increíble. Un abrazo

  25. Stunning photos as always here David, love the captures you got of the caterpillar - what a find! - Tasha

  26. Thank you for your comment, David! I believe the weather in those areas of Europe is almost ideal now. Enjoy your time and don't worry about visiting blogs! :)

  27. Welcome back david. I popped by to read all about your trip to Croatia. Seems you're still busy with sorting the pictures and compsosing a write-up, not to mention doing the laundry? See you later.

  28. Beautiful photos, David! So lovely and refreshing to see. Thank you so much for sharing.