The last week or so has been a drag -- poor weather and poor health has kept me away from the nets for many days. The last couple of weeks of banding area always a challenge. Frosty nights mean frosty nets:
You can see the layer of frost on these closed nets. Often they are actually frozen shut, but even if they can be opened, it's like hanging out a bedsheet:
Not an effective way to catch birds! Nothing can be done but sit it out and wait for it to get warm enough for the frost to clear.
We did have our first Purple Finch of the season last week. Overall, about 80% of the birds we band in fall are young (hatch-year) birds. Young Purple Finches, male and female, have female-like plumage. So it's always cool to get a nice adult male like this one:
Purple Finches really are on the purple side of red -- a dark pink or raspberry color that distinguishes them from House Finches, which are red or orangish-red. Also note that Purple Finches really don't have much streaking on their sides. The abundant streaks of House Finches makes them look "dirty." Once you really get a good look at a Purple Finch, you'll see that it's easy to tell the two species apart. Banders have another clue: House Finches are pretty docile, but Purple Finches BITE!
We also had the last of the Orange-crowed Warblers. Other than Yellow-rumps, these are usually the final warblers to pass through.
Chipping Sparrows are very common on campus. This young bird was in our nets last week. It still has streaky juvenal plumage, especially the streaky cap. (And, no, I didn't spell that wrong. "Juvenile" birds have "juvenal" plumage.)
I've updated the stats on the sidebar again. I hope to be able to get in a few more hours next week as I begin removing the nets for winter. In many cases, I'd leave them up and see if I could extend the season, but a scout group will be coming in to put down landscape fabric and wood chips in the nets lanes. This will greatly reduce the pre-season net lane preparation for the next several years. I'm thrilled about it, so no complaints from me!
After it's all wrapped up, I'll update the stats and point you to the RRBO web site, where I will post a full summary of the fall banding season.