McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY
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Notes: This week was slower in bird activity than the past week. Several mornings were rather frosty, leading to some stiff and frozen nets and fingers. The busiest day was a very foggy Wednesday morning (4th Oct.) with 109 birds banded from just two net lines. This was due to a large wave of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which resulted in them overtaking Yellow-rumped Warblers as the most frequently banded species of the week.
Despite the lower number of birds banded there were 6 new species sighted in Week 10. These included the previously mentioned Brown Creepers and Fox Sparrows banded this week. In addition, a Rough-legged Hawk was seen soaring above late Wednesday morning once the skies cleared. Early Thursday morning a Snow Goose was spotted among one of the growing Canada Goose flocks. It was distinguished from the surrounding Canada Geese by its smaller size and lighter body with dark tipped wings. As well, during the Thursday census a lone Eastern Bluebird was heard singing its bittersweet farewell amongst the rowdier chatter of American Robins. Lastly, a curious juvenile Northern Shrike supervised the de-frosting of the A net on a the chilly Saturday morning – but despite our most polite invitation it did not enter the net once it was opened. Perhaps next time!
With the ripening of the buckthorn berries and wild grapes on site has come the time of the American Robins, whose chatters and songs fill the morning air. Several found their way into the nets and dyed both our bags and volunteers hands a rather lovely shade of blue with their berry-filled droppings. Their smaller and infinitely better behaved cousin, the Hermit Thrush, was also a welcome visitor most mornings. A surprise in this week’s top 10 banded is the Winter Wren. These little songsters are often tricky to see, so it’s a treat to have a good number of them in the nets this week.
At this point last year, White-throated Sparrows had been on top of the list of most frequently banded birds for four consecutive weeks. This year they are much less abundant, consistently within the top five, but never yet cracking the top two - are they just late, have they been passing MBO by this year, or did they have a poor breeding season compared to 2005? Questions such as these are difficult to answer at this point, but once we have several more years of consistent monitoring behind us, yearly fluctuations and population trends should become more apparent.
The top 6 species from last week's banding list remained in this week's top 10, while the American Robin vaulted into fourth place and will likely remain among the most abundant species over the final three weeks of the season. White-crowned Sparrows continue to be surprisingly numerous, with more banded in the past two weeks (44) than in the cumulative history of MBO to this point (39).
The Canada Geese dominated this week’s list of top 10 seen. in addition to a substantial increase in American Robin numbers, a big change from last week is the growing number of Red-winged Blackbird flocks passing through. They rarely if ever come low enough to be caught in the nets in the fall – but they often land in some of the larger trees in the property, causing a competition for space and sound with the feeding American Robins. And it's often worth to take a closer look at these groups, for many days this week we were able to spot several Rusty Blackbirds among them.
© 2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.