Sunday, November 2, 2008

Late Season Banding

It has been a while since I've had time to either update the blog or get out banding. Life can really get in the way of what I'd rather be doing. This weekend though, the unseasonably warm weather let me put the nets out one more time to see what is still around. A quiet woods was not very encouraging when I arrived but the first bird in the net proved to be this interesting Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca, pictured above.

First thing I noticed when I approached the net was that this bird was already banded. Not having been out for three weeks I had high hopes this bird would be yet another foreign retrap. It was not to be BUT this bird did provide some food for thought. This bird is a hatch year female that I banded on Oct. 11th which means she has been hanging out for at least 3 weeks. We have had cold fronts move through and the days are getting significantly shorter yet this bird has not felt the urge to move on. She is in good shape (she has even gained a little weight since I last caught her)and flies well. I don't think I'll be out again to try and catch her but the end of this week is forecast to become cold and possibly even snowy. I expect her to move on soon.

I had 5 birds total for the day and 4 were retraps. The above Fox Sparrow and 3 Black-capped Chickadees, Poecile atricapillus. The only new bird banded was another Fox Sparrow and this one had an asymmetrical tail. I checked closely to see if the tail was in molt and it wasn't. The birds left retrices were normal but the right side was really varied. The picture above shows this. I think there a couple of possible explanations but I'll leave it to you readers to ponder for a bit.

Reports are beginning to trickle in of winter birds showing up in numbers in the upper midwest. There are beginning to be sightings of Snowy Owls, Bubo scandiacus, reported and Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis, flocks are appearing as far south as the Twin Cities area already. This may turn out to be a pretty good winter season if this keeps up.

Enjoy November and GET OUT TO VOTE on the 4th!

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