24 August 2019
There is always a sense of excitement and anticipation when we start afresh with our bird banding activities and this year was no exception. I met Kevin, dark and early, and we were soon afterwards joined by Ross, and set up five nets.
It was cool when we started (8° C) and few birds were moving around. At that temperature nor were the mosquitoes fortunately!
We retraced our steps from the final net and in the very first one retrieved a juvenile Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis). A Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilocus colubris) had also been ensnared, but since we do not have a permit to band hummingbirds it was released right away.
This young Grey Catbird was acquiring new feathers as can be clearly seen below.
A couple more rounds of the nets yielded nothing, but the day was warming and insects were starting to rise out of the grass, and our next circuit was more productive.
A Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), which undergoes at least partial moult before leaving the breeding grounds, was also showing evidence of moult in the tail feathers.
It is relatively infrequently that we trap Field Sparrows (Spizella pusilla) so we considered ourselves exceptionally fortunate to capture two juveniles of this species.
A Nashville Warbler (Leiothlypis ruficapilla) is somewhat more predictable, however.
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) is the most common new world sparrow in our area, so the only surprise was that we caught but one.
House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) have had a prolific breeding season this year, with several successful nests at SpruceHaven, and this young bird will soon be making its first migratory journey.
All birds banded 24 August: House Wren (1), Grey Catbird (1), Field Sparrow (2), Song Sparrow (1), Nashville Warbler (1), Common Yellowthroat (4) Total: 10 individuals of 6 species.
25 August 2019
It was our great pleasure to host a group of people under the aegis of Wild Birds Unlimited (email@example.com) who were interested in all that goes on at Sprucehaven. It was a small but enthusiastic group, and it was my great pleasure to try to impart some of the magic of SpruceHaven to them. I was especially delighted to see children present.
I do not have all the names of the people above but I will give the ones I know and I would be happy to add the the others if people would contact me. Along the back row, working from the left, unknown, Sharon Dillon-Martin, Tammy ?, Cathy Hale (Owner, Wild Birds Unlimited). In front are Darwin (great name!) and his sister, Joy. Tammy is their mom and is to be congratulated for bringing out her children to enjoy the wonders of nature.
Kevin was unable to band with us this morning, but Ross came out to help and Heather was happy to make her first appearance of the season. Judy and Lorraine came out later.
It was with a good deal of pleasure that we caught our first empidonax flycatcher, the morphology and biometrics of which narrowed it down to Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus).
It was while processing this bird that a fly in the family Hippoboscidae, an obligate parasite of birds and mammals, dropped out of the feathers. (Picture courtesy of Ross Dickson)
These flies are commonly referred to as flat flies and can compress their body and easily insert themselves into the feather tract of their avian host, being able to move sideways to sidle through the feathers. At least we did the bird the service of removing this bothersome intruder!
A Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) is a resident species, and this individual that flew into our mist net was banded along with the migrants.
The highlight of our banding session was a Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia), a species we do not often capture, and in fact a species infrequently encountered in the field.
A young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) let Heather know that he was not at all sanguine about being handled.
It is not so bad when they seize your whole finger as above, but if they clamp down on the skin between your thumb and forefinger it is painful!
A Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) was our first capture of the season.
Chipping Sparrows (Spizella passerina) breed locally so it is quite possible that this juvenile bird may have been born right at SpruceHaven.
Our final bird banded was a juvenile male American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis), a resident species. I expect we will trap a few more goldfinches before the season is done.
It was a great weekend of banding, aided in no small measure by good weather, and the wonderful fellowship of bird enthusiasts, and a visit from Cathy and friends.
Ross will be back at it on Tuesday!
All birds banded 25 August: Least Flycatcher (1), Warbling Vireo (2), Black-capped Chickadee (1), Grey Catbird (1), American Goldfinch (1), Chipping Sparrow (1), Song Sparrow (9), Mourning Warbler (1), Common Yellowthroat (1), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (1). Total: 19 individuals of 10 species.