McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY
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Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei,
Notes: This week we lost two days to rain, but still managed to break 300 birds banded. This is likely due to the 109-bird day we had Tuesday morning (half of them American Robins!), indicating that migration is still going strong for some species. In addition, we broke the 3000 birds banded mark for our Fall 2006 season! This is triple the number of birds banded in spring 2006 and brings the site total to over 9000 birds.
Even this far into our fall season (the penultimate week), we managed to find two new species to band. One of these species has been very successful in avoiding our nets, as it generally remains in large raucous flocks high above the site. We’re talking about the European Starling, a non-native species that we have to admit we were very excited to band. The second new species, the American tree Sparrow, is actually in the top ten this week, indicating that they’re indeed on the move. An honourable mention goes to our second fall Red-winged Blackbird that hit the net one round after the starling, making for a very exciting Saturday morning (...a third Red-winged Blackbird the following morning was slightly anticlimactic, but still welcomed by all who were present!). This highlights the difference a season can make: we would have hardly been this excited had a Red-winged Blackbird hit our nets in spring, as it was by far the most commonly banded species of the season.
Species diversity is on the decline as winter approaches, with the 55 species seen over the course of this week not even as many as the best single-day totals from earlier in the season. However, heading out late in the season has its own rewards, as those who volunteered on the weekend appreciated. On Saturday, the cold and blustery northwest winds brought with them a steady supply of raptors including 21 Red-tailed Hawks and smaller numbers of Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, and Rough-legged Hawks, as well as Northern Harriers and Turkey Vultures. Then on Sunday, 3 beautiful Eastern Bluebirds decided to hang out in the hawthorns between the V and A nets for a couple of hours, giving everyone a great view of these rather uncommon visitors.
We also had a nice reminder this week of why winter banding is so important: we recaptured an adult male Slate-colored Junco that we had previously banded around our feeders last February. It’s amazing to think that this bird traveled the same path it took last year – opting to fuel up at our tiny little site far removed from his boreal breeding grounds. We’re happy to report that he was in great shape. We wish him the best of luck as he makes his way south, and hope he visits us again this spring ... or again hangs around to enjoy the benefits of our winter feeders!
This week’s top ten is much like last week’s, indicating a stabilization in species diversity as migration begins to slow. As most of the warblers are now down south, we now find mostly sparrows, robins and blackbirds hopping around the site or in the nets. Canada Geese finally are dropping down the list this week, relinquishing the hold they’ve had near the top since their appearance approximately one month ago. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is also slowly dropping out of the top ten observed species list – although a mid-week influx propelled them and their cousins (Golden-crowned Kinglet) to second and third most frequently banded species for the week. Winter’s definitely on its way though, as these increasingly chilly mornings remind us, so we’re busy preparing for our winter season before the fall nets have even come down.
A second wave of Yellow-rumped Warblers pushed its way through mid-week, once again placing them in the top ten despite being almost completely absent the rest of the week. It seemed to be the week for day-long waves, with 400 Red-winged Blackbirds on Friday, and 700-odd European Starlings flocking around on Saturday, largely accounting for their jump in the weekly totals. The only consistent species has been the American Robin, holding steady at around 300 per day.
© 2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.