Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall banding: Weeks 8-10

Good riddance to a wet September. October has been occasionally wet or windy, but overall the weather has been much better. Unlike some Octobers, we have had only two mornings with frost, which can delay us from opening in the morning if the nets get stuck shut. On the downside, deer are mating and they've managed to get in the banding area regularly. One night a buck was presumably chasing a doe and they ran into the gate of the chain link fence so hard they bent open the latch! We are now operating with a reduced number of nets, and all but two of the ones remaining are damaged from their activities.

The number of birds we have banded so far in October represents over 40% of the total for the season. Most have come after mid-month, when American Robin numbers increased, and the first big push of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, and sparrows began. It is heartening to see respectable Hermit Thrush numbers. The number of Swainson's Thrushes banded this fall was our second lowest. We have already hit our average for Hermit Thrushes, and are getting plenty of seed samples from them, which is excellent. We're still below average for White-throats, and they don't seem as numerous this year as usual. We have only banded four White-crowned Sparrows, which is ridiculously low. Our average is 22.

White-throated Sparrow.

Warblers continue to be banded. In addition to Yellow-rumps, late species such as Common Yellowthroat, Orange-crowned, and Palm still are around, as is Tennessee. Every day we still get a Nashville Warbler or two, and we are far over our fall high of 59 Nashvilles banded. Notable was a Blackpoll Warbler banded on 22 October that tied the late fall date for Dearborn -- but one seen the next day furnished the new late date. An American Redstart was also banded  on 22 October, and that was a new late date for that species.

Orange-crowned Warbler.

Two species were banded this month that we don't get too often: Eastern Towhee and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Young male Eastern Towhee.

Young female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
We are now around 1000 new birds banded of 72 species, approaching average but with a capture rate (based on number of nets and hours opened) still well below average. Typically we band into the first week of November, but we may go longer than that this year if the weather holds. The next banding update will be a summary of the season.

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