Week 10:  October 3-9, 2006

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This week, species banded for the first time this season included Brown Creeper and
the Fox Sparrow shown above.  This is among the few species that is likely to become
increasingly common over the final three weeks of the season, usually dominated
by American Robins and a variety of sparrow species.  (
Photo by Barbara Frei)-

MBO gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided for the 2006 Fall Migration Monitoring Program by Mountain Equipment Co-op's Environment Fund






2006 TOTAL


# birds (and species) banded

305 (23)

2612 (72)

3547 (82)

8600 (96)

# birds (and species) repeat

26 (11)

323 (33)

560 (39)

1438 (52)

# birds (and species) return

1 (1)

24 (9)

121 (22)

190 (26)

# species observed





# net hours





# birds banded / 100 net hours





Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Bander-in-charge:  Barbara Frei
Assistants:  Nadege Allan, Jean Beaudreault, Sophie Cauchon, Dominic Chambers, Natalia Costella, Jacinthe Daprato, Alejandro Del Peral, Jean Demers, Maria Frei, Gay Gruner, Amy Henderson, Keelan Jacobs, Marie-Pier Lambert, Sarah Marteinson, Poonam Maskeri, Laurie Maurias, Mike Mayerhofer, Betsy McFarlane, Anthi Mimidakis, Chris Murphy, Annie-Claude Paradis, André Pelletier, Greg Rand, Sabrina Richard-Lapland, Katleen Robert, Marie-Claude Roy, Clémence Soulard, Katie Sullivan, Rachel Verkade, James Young

Notes:  This week was slower in bird activity than the past week. Several mornings were rather frosty, leading to some stiff and frozen nets and fingers. The busiest day was a very foggy Wednesday morning (4th Oct.) with 109 birds banded from just two net lines. This was due to a large wave of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which resulted in them overtaking Yellow-rumped Warblers as the most frequently banded species of the week.

Despite the lower number of birds banded there were 6 new species sighted in Week 10. These included the previously mentioned Brown Creepers and Fox Sparrows banded this week. In addition, a Rough-legged Hawk was seen soaring above late Wednesday morning once the skies cleared. Early Thursday morning a Snow Goose was spotted among one of the growing Canada Goose flocks. It was distinguished from the surrounding Canada Geese by its smaller size and lighter body with dark tipped wings. As well, during the Thursday census a lone Eastern Bluebird was heard singing its bittersweet farewell amongst the rowdier chatter of American Robins. Lastly, a curious juvenile Northern Shrike supervised the de-frosting of the A net on a the chilly Saturday morning – but despite our most polite invitation it did not enter the net once it was opened. Perhaps next time!

It seems there are always birds in the large dead tree near the north end of Stoneycroft Pond, and it's always a good idea to look closely at them for potential surprises.  Can you spot the four species in the photo above?  Answer at the end of this week's report.  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

With the ripening of the buckthorn berries and wild grapes on site has come the time of the American Robins, whose chatters and songs fill the morning air. Several found their way into the nets and dyed both our bags and volunteers hands a rather lovely shade of blue with their berry-filled droppings. Their smaller and infinitely better behaved cousin, the Hermit Thrush, was also a welcome visitor most mornings. A surprise in this week’s top 10 banded is the Winter Wren. These little songsters are often tricky to see, so it’s a treat to have a good number of them in the nets this week.

                                                    This week's top 10   [last week's rank in brackets]
# individuals banded mean # individuals observed daily
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (115) [2] Canada Goose (376) [1]
Yellow-rumped Warbler (40) [1] American Robin (99) [6]
White-throated Sparrow (31) [3] American Crow (67) [2]
American Robin (28) [-] Red-winged Blackbird (57) [-]
White-crowned Sparrow (17) [4] Ruby-crowned Kinglet (49) [4]
Song Sparrow (10) [6] White-throated Sparrow (25) [5]
Hermit Thrush (10) [-] Yellow-rumped Warbler (25) [3]
Golden-crowned Kinglet (7) [5] Blue Jay (23) [7]
Swamp Sparrow (7) [-] Common Grackle (22)  [-]
Winter Wren (6) [-] Black-capped Chickadee (17) [9]

At this point last year, White-throated Sparrows had been on top of the list of most frequently banded birds for four consecutive weeks.  This year they are much less abundant, consistently within the top five, but never yet cracking the top two - are they just late, have they been passing MBO by this year, or did they have a poor breeding season compared to 2005?  Questions such as these are difficult to answer at this point, but once we have several more years of consistent monitoring behind us, yearly fluctuations and population trends should become more apparent.

The top 6 species from last week's banding list remained in this week's top 10, while the American Robin vaulted into fourth place and will likely remain among the most abundant species over the final three weeks of the season.  White-crowned Sparrows continue to be surprisingly numerous, with more banded in the past two weeks (44) than in the cumulative history of MBO to this point (39).

The Canada Geese dominated this week’s list of top 10 seen.  in addition to a substantial increase in American Robin numbers, a big change from last week is the growing number of Red-winged Blackbird flocks passing through. They rarely if ever come low enough to be caught in the nets in the fall – but they often land in some of the larger trees in the property, causing a competition for space and sound with the feeding American Robins. And it's often worth to take a closer look at these groups, for many days this week we were able to spot several Rusty Blackbirds among them.

The confusing fall warblers may be largely past us at this point, but this does not mean there are no challenges remaining.  Sparrows are often regarded as a confusing bunch - more so when they do not look as expected.  The large sparrow above has tricked many.  However, if you look closely at the bill and facial pattern, it is very similar to that of the bird below, easily recognizable as a White-crowned Sparrow.  In fact, while the plumage above can be confusing at first, its distinctiveness makes this the easiest of the sparrows for which to distinguish between hatch-year (above) and after-hatch-year (below) birds.  (Photos by Marcel Gahbauer)

Occasionally, there are hatch-year White-crowned Sparrows that are already showing a bit of white and black in their crown, like the individual below captured this week.
 (Photo by Barbara Frei)

Answer to the 4-species photo:  2 Red-winged Blackbirds (top left, one showing its red shoulder patch), 3 American Robins (all easily spotted by their orange breasts), 1 Rusty Blackbird (top right, with a visibly brown tone, especially around the face, and the yellow eye barely showing), and 1 Cedar Waxwing (a streaky hatch-year bird just below and to the left of the Rusty Blackbird):




© 2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.