The Juveniles are fledging! So far we’ve caught juvenile Red-naped Sapsuckers, American Redstarts, Black capped chickadees, Pine Siskins, Clay-colored Sparrows, White-Crowned sparrows, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings and House Wrens.
At Rodeo Grounds we had our first of three busy days; 11 juveniles of 38 new birds! This week we caught our first Tennessee Warblers at the site; 2 females, who have finished breeding and a male. The grasses have continued to grow and are over 2 meters high and the net lanes have completely dried out Our Snipe pair has finally taken a break from berating us all day- perhaps they have finished sitting on the nest. The winnowing snipes make is actually a very cool noise, not only because it’s haunting, but because it is not produced vocally, but rather is produced by air flowing over the males’ tail feathers as the bird beats its wings.
We had our first overcast/rainy day in a while and were rained out for about an hour at Old Baldy. The Saskatoon berries are ripening and there are tons of Cedar Waxwings at the site. In addition, the Robin population is growing exponentially; more than half of the birds running around were definitely juveniles. Surprisingly we don’t actually band a lot of Robins, though they are everywhere, especially at Old Baldy where there is mowed lawns surrounding the nearby campground; they tend to bounce out of the net when they fly into it. Most of the passerines that we catch are smaller birds and I always forget how chunky Robins are, and how brutal they are to handle; screaming, pooping, fluffy little monsters! Like most thrushes, American Robins have such a beautiful, cheery song, alas, we are hearing less and less of them singing as the summer moves on. Also this week, we had a very territorial Gray Catbird at our site. He stayed about 10 meters away from the banding station and screamed/meowed at us while we banded, then would follow us on our net runs! When we had birds in a net (especially the juvenile Robins because they were so loud), the Catbird went berserk – jumping from branch to branch, screaming his head off! It was actually quite cute, though I’m sure that isn’t what he was going for.
The overcast weather brought lots of mosquitoes to our Spruce Coulee site and the flycatchers were as numerous as the Robins were at Old Baldy. We caught 13 Least Flycatchers alone, which is quite a few considering we caught about 60 birds. We also caught our first juvenile Cedar Waxwing of the year, and boy, are they adorable little round fluff balls (they rival baby chickadees)! We also caught a family of House Wrens; one female with a wrinkled brood patch and four of her babies. House Wrens have one of the largest ranges of any passerine, breeding from the southern most point of South America all the way up to Canada. Another fun House Wren fact: because they breed in old tree cavities and nest boxes their nests are prone to mites and it is thought that this is why they include spider egg sacs to their nesting material, to eat the mites! Final fun House Wren fact: I find them very difficult to age and they are a pain to get out of the mist nets, especially when there are five of them all together.
Overall a busier, great few days of banding! It’s so exciting to see all the fresh new juveniles flying around our sites.