After a few blank nights, the wind and moon finally died down and we captured several Saw-whet owls this weekend. Photos by Adrian Binn.
Dear Banding Friends,
Last week a brief alert to Rushton banding buddies began, “Waxwings, Palm warblers, Purple finches, Oh My.
Flickers and Hairy, Lincoln’s sparrow, and Swainson’s Thrush too.”
We caught 87 birds from 19 species making 10/19/10 the best day in our first year of banding at Rushton Preserve. We commenced banding on 10/16/09.
Lou, Blake, Sue and Denis did a super job handling birds and scribing after Alice and Lisa had to leave. At one point the arms of the lopper could not hold all the bird bags. We used the gathering cage to take some pressure off. Having three people who could extract birds from the nets while I banded and Denis scribed was ideal. =D> Our dedicated volunteers enable us to quickly collect and process birds which is great for the birds and good for the bander who has ultimate responsibility for their safety.
On Wednesday 10/20 only 29 birds were caught including our first White-crowned Sparrow, a young bird which hatched this year. A bird which Hatched this calendar Year is an HY in bander speak. A Hatching Year bird is a juvenile, but its plumage is called juvenal (not a spelling mistake!). On January 1, 2011 at 12:01 am, bird banders will call the HY birds of 2010 After Hatching Year (AHY) since they are no longer in the calender year in which they hatched. Seem confusing? Come out and band with us and we’ll show you how it works.
We continue to retrap lots of White-throated Sparrows (winter visitors) which were banded this year and resident birds (Chickadee, Titmouse) from the previous two seasons. To date 65 birds trapped at Rushton have been caught a second or even a third time. That’s quite normal and we may learn about their health and the health of the environment as we record the mass of the bird and compare it to earlier measures..
The week’s downward slide reached it’s nadir on Friday night when a crowd of expectant visitors gathered as we opened nets for Norther Saw-whet Owls. The wind was howling and we understood that conditions were far less than ideal for owl banding, but we persevered until 11:30, but did not catch a bird. Lou is hard at work building an ‘owl class’ audio lure for us which is no guarantee of future success, but at least will put us on an equal footing with other owl banding stations.
See you in the woods.
We received this beautiful passage via email from Cathy Staples, who joined us banding this morning at oh-dawn-thirty.
Birdbanding Field Notes: Rushton Farm, October 20th
The white-throated sparrow of my New England childhood: a sing of yellow on either side of his head, just a lick of brightness that like his song is a heartening, steady thrum in the turning wood. Lisa Kiziuk deftly lifts him from the mist net; he’s hardly tangled, it’s as if he’s been here before. (And he has, “sixty-nine” reads the imprint on his ankle band; last October he was caught and banded in the Rushton woods.) He’s an easy keeper, not to be compared with that fussing welter of feathers above him, small chickadee who has roiled about so that each curled foot is a welter of black mesh. I can’t imagine there’s anything to do but cut the net. But then Lisa strokes his leg lengthwise, the way you might straighten a dog’s foreleg before removing a thorn, and with one steady stroke the claw releases its tenacious grip. Square by square the mist net untwists. Lisa closes the angle of the perfectly hinged wing, slips one loop, then another, past shoulder and wingtip. One quarter turn of the wrist, and he’s unencumbered. The chickadee rests in the cradle of her palm, head caught in the vee of forefinger and ring finger. He peers up from under the loft of his punk black head, undeterred. Given a millimeter of wiggle room, he’ll do it again: pinch a fold Lisa’s forefinger, feisty as a pirate on his way up the rigging—cutlass between his teeth—before he’s eased down into the white fog, slip-purse of a bird bag and carried away to the bird-banding table.