Sunday, March 21, 2010

A "Sweet" Banding Session

In spite of the fact that the previous week had been really nice, Saturday morning started sunny but cold. With enough volunteers present we decided to go ahead and use mist nets along with our Potter traps in order to catch as many birds as we could during our program. We had some nice birds like the above Downy Woodpecker.

We still have a number of Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows around and we were able to catch some of both. This handsome fellow should be headed back north soon. If the winds change this week he may be in Canada before next weekend.

Something you don't get to see unless you have a junco in the hand is the variation of the amount of white on the third rectrix. This seems to be one clue to help aging juncos. The more white on R4 the older the bird (R4 on the right is the feather on the outside). As always though, you have to use the entire set of characteristics to really come to a good conclusion.

One of the hazards of living in cold climates is that sometimes the cold can do some damage. A couple of the toes on this junco appear to have been damaged by frostbite this winter. How bad the damage is, is hard to say. The discoloration though is obvious.

While we were banding, the nature center was also doing a program on making maple syrup and was boiling down some sap right where we were releasing our banded birds.

The odor was great and made this a really sweet session. We didn't get any early migrants but we did see 2 Red-winged Blackbirds at the feeders that were banded so we know some of "our" birds are back.

Numbers for the day are:

Black-capped Chickadees - 7 (2 being recaptures)
American Tree Sparrows - 15
Dark-eyed Juncos - 7
Downy Woodpecker - 2 (1 recapture)
White-breasted Nuthatch - 5
Hairy Woodpecker - 1 (a recaptured female)

Total species = 6
Total individuals = 37


Michael and Martha said...

I think the word is retrix, not retrice. The plural form is, of course, . Great blog.

M & M

Bill Hilton Jr. said...

ROGER . . . Are you sure that pale toe and nail on the junco were caused by frostbite? I've seen the same on juncos here in South Carolina but attributed it merely to lack of pigmentation. Since juncos often show white feathers ("partial albinism") mightn't pale digits be more of the same?

Keep up the good work.