Monday, October 22, 2007

Two Special Birds = a Banner Day!

The weather has been constant SW winds for over a week but the birds today were not in quantity but quality!! And I say quality was the word of the day!Nothing big as far as numbers of birds go. We had 51 new banded birds of 18 species. I was glad most of the banded Hermit Thrushes left the area or are tired of being reweighed and their fat reserves assessed.

The top species banded new for today:Hermit Thrush - 11
White-throated Sparrow - 7
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) WarblerSwamp Sparrow - 6
Red-winged Blackbird - 5

We also caught a foreign banded White-throated Sparrow but the number was not in the Bird Banding Laboratory’s database yet. I am hoping the bander turns their data in soon. We do not get too many of other bander’s birds at our station (maybe 4-6 a year). It is always a treat to get a foreign bird and find out where it has been banded, when it was banded to determine how old it is, and to contemplate where it has been between here and there. The many thousands of miles these small birds travel is amazing.
The kinglets are still absent and there are still very few Myrtle Warblers around.
The point count recorded hundreds of blackbirds flying over leaving their roosts. There were quite a few Pine Siskins flying over all day but none came down to be banded.

Cooper's Hawk
The foreign recapture would have been enough to cause most banders to become giddy and really make for a quality day. But let me tell you there is more! The size mesh mist nets we use are around 1 ¼ inch mesh to target the small birds. So the chance of getting a large bird the size of a flicker or larger is rare because the net will not hold them. They can flip themselves out without blinking an eye or a nictitating membrane (sorry for the commentary but I am still on my adrenaline rush for the day). While walking back to the banding building where we process the birds (band, measure, and weigh), I see this large bird flapping near the net so I take off toward the net. There is a female Cooper’s hawk caught in the net by its foot. Remember it is a huge bird and normally the net would have acted like a trampoline with this bird hitting the net. Somehow its one toe was caught long enough for me to scoop up the net to hold it in the net and figure out how to handle it. With accipiters you have to watch the very dexterous feet (sharp claws with speed of lightening reflexes-after all it is their lifestyle). What a Bird! A beautiful adult female Cooper’s Hawk and Big! It took two people to get the band on and not get hit with its talons. If we would catch hawks with any frequency we would have proper holding cans for them but this was the 2nd time in 18 years that a Cooper’s Hawk has been caught in the fall.

Northern Shrike
The Northern Shrike did not give the warning clicks like the Loggerhead did this spring when in the hand. This bird was calm except when a hand got too close to it. We ran another round of the nets but did not get anything good or that good!
What a day! Who would have thought such quality on this day! Just goes to show you never know what you will find out there unless you are out there looking.
A cold front is coming in tonight so maybe that will bring in the kinglets. Still have not seen a American Tree Sparrow yet.

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