Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall 2009: Week 11 in review

Things seemed more "normal" this past week, at least in terms of volume. Diversity slacks off this late in the season, with only a smattering of lingering migrants but more winter-type birds.

We banded an Eastern Phoebe on 25 October, a species we don't band too often. This was also the day we banded what will probably be our last Gray Catbird of the season, and when we caught our first Purple Finch of the fall (below).

It's always a treat to band a colorful adult male Purple Finch (the young males are not red and look like females). If the color difference between Purple Finches and House Finches doesn't tip you off, also notice the lack of brown streaking on the sides of the Purple Finch, and how straight the top of the upper bill is -- it is curved on House Finches (a male shown below). Should you have either species in your hand, House Finches are pretty docile, while Purple Finches are known for their biting!

On 29 October we had a nice surprise. We recaptured a Slate-colored Junco banded here as a young (hatching year) bird on 24 Oct 2007. Winter site fidelity is well-known in juncos, but given the number of them here during fall and winter, and the wide area on campus they occupy, it's not very often that we recapture one from a previous year. Also on 29 October, a Rusty Blackbird sang for me in the banding area. We no longer see many of this declining species (although it was the 10,000th bird banded at RRBO), so even though I didn't catch it, I was happy to see and hear it.

I also don't catch many White-breasted Nuthatches, but this one got snagged investigating a chickadee that was fussing in the net.

On 1 November, we broke our record for the most robins banded in a single fall season. We ended the day at 357. Our fall average is 172, and our previous high number was 354. This is only the fourth fall season that we have broken 300.

Will be winding down the fall banding season this week.

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