Sunday, October 16, 2016

Warm Autumn Keeps Birds Around

We are having an unseasonably warm spell here in the middle of October. Had a great time visiting a "Big Sit" program that the National Park Service held yesterday at Coldwater Spring in south Minneapolis. The bird list from the sit shows how unusual the fall has been. There were several warbler species still around and mixed in with a flock of Robins was a Varied Thrush! All this was seen while people were walking around in T-shirts.

The nice weather has also made banding really easy. Not having to freeze while waiting for the next net run is a pleasure. That doesn't mean that fall isn't progressing. Below is a photo from the last blog entry of what the banding site looked like on Oct. 9. The photo below that shows what the area looks like today.
This is what it looks like at Murphy-Hanrahan Park on Oct. 16th:
Fall colors are starting to peak here and to the south.

Along with being beautiful, the area has had lots of bird activity the last 2 days with many migrants found flitting around through the goldenrods and low bushes.
This male Golden-crowned Kinglet was caught Saturday at our program at the Lowry Nature Center in Victoria, MN. It's not often we see the high numbers of GCKI that have been present lately. Lots of people have mentioned seeing many more than usual.
In the hand it was easy to show our visitors the orange feathers on the male crown. Usually in the field all you see are the upper yellow (golden) feathers.
Newly arrived in the area are Fox Sparrows. One of my favorite sparrows! Beautiful and large so they're easy to handle. This time of fall the Fox Sparrows overlap the last of the Hermit Thrushes so sometimes when walking up to the net I'm not sure what we have until I get close.
 By the look of the bill on this bird it appears to have been feeding on berries of some type. My guess is European Buckthorn. Most of the native berry bushes and trees have been picked clean for a while now.

Totals for banding from both days this weekend are as follows:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        4
Golden-crowned Kinglet     1
Dark-eyed Junco                2
Black-capped Chickadee   11
Orange-crowned Warbler   3
White-throated Sparrow     3
White-breasted Nuthatch   9
Hermit Thrush                    2
Downy Woodpecker           2
Northern Cardinal              1
Fox Sparrow                      2
American Robin                 1

Total Species = 12
Total Individuals = 41

I'll take those numbers any day but especially in mid-October. Here's hoping the weather cooperates this week too.

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