We caught our first Lincoln Sparrow of 2012, our first Blackpoll Warblers of FMM and (Brace yourself) a Field Sparrow! The winds have been very strong lately, blowing from the east one day and the west the next. Perhaps this bird just got carried a little out of its range – these sparrows typically breed and migrate through eastern North America. Regradless of how it ended up at CHIP, it was pretty amazing to band one.
It was our second day in a row banding a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, our first Orange-crowned in a of couple weeks and, as I mentioned, the first Blackpolls of the fall and our first Lincoln- migration is getting exciting! Our Yellow Warbler numbers are dwindling compared to ten days ago when we banded close to twenty in a day. There are still a few hanging around but our determined male singers have moved on. Now when we see a small yellow bird in a tree it usually turns out to be a Wilson’s, whereas a week ago you could pretty much guarantee it was a Yellow The Catbirds are still around in large numbers – I heard one today mimicking the noise the net rungs make when we open the nets (we have small metal rings that slide up and down the poles). The American Robins are also moving through in flocks larger than 50 birds.
I couldn’t resist posting this photo! We were fortunate enough to band this Juvenile Northen Harrier today. She was such a beautiful bird I just had to share!
CHIP FMM: August 15 – 20th , 2012
The third week of FMM and we are only getting busier, close to 100 birds for a couple days! The nights and mornings are beginning to cool down and we had a few openings below 5 degrees. In addition, we had a couple of intense storms that seemed to help move some birds through. We started catching migratory warblers including our first Black and White Warbler, a Magnolia, many Wilson’s, more MacGillivary’s, Common Yellowthroats and the beginnings of the Tennessee Warbler migration. We’re catching more “Traill’s” as the days go by and seeing increasing numbers of Cedar Waxwings, Gray Catbirds and Eastern Kingbirds at the station. We still have our little groups of Robins that guard all entrances to the beach and the hatch year chickadees are forming little groups as well. The chickadees are hilarious singers when they’re juvenile; completely out of tune. This week we also saw a Song Sparrow still feeding its three juveniles, so obviously we still have a few residents at the station, but not for long. Other new birds for the FMM include Purple Finches and Chipping Sparrow Juveniles. It is amazing how streaked the Chipping Sparrow juveniles are compared to the clay-colored juveniles. The streaking even extends through the gray nape collar.
CHIP FMM: August 8 – 14th, 2012
By the Second week of FMM we were catching more and more crossbills and they were beginning to carry a substantial amount of fat. The only birds heard singing were Yellow Warblers, Western Wood Pewees and Red-eyed Vireos. We caught our first Belted Kingfisher (The picture featured above). At CHIP we rarely catch the adults, but the juvenile Kingfishers fly into the net every so often. They are truly spectacular birds! We continued to see and catch many Least Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, Sapsuckers, Pine Siskins, White winged and Red Crossbills, Wrens, American Robins, White-crowned and Song Sparrows and Gray Catbirds. The Catbirds seemed to be growing in numbers and the flock of Crossbills only seemed to be increasing as well. It’s amazing that the two Crossbill species have such different temperaments; the White-winged Crossbills are docile in the net and fairly accepting in the hand whereas the Red Crossbills have a temper akin to chickadees, down right evil. The Chipping Sparrows that we saw in large flocks in the spring were finally starting to trickle back into the area. By the end of the second week we were also catching juvenile “Traill’s” Flycatchers and only juvenile Least Flycatchers as the adults seem to have already passed through. The weather was calm and warm; we really needed a big storm to get some of the species moving.
CHIP FMM: August 2 – 7th , 2012
The first week of CHIP started beautifully. There were still some determined singers: Least Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, Olive sided Flycatchers, White-crowned Sparrows and Song Sparrows. The Canada Geese are still around but frequent the beach less now that people have claimed it. There is also a flock of Ring-billed Gulls that float in a group across the lake. The bank swallows that lived in a colony across the lake were seen the first few days of FMM but have either headed south, or have stopped coming by the banding station. The Flock of Red Crossbills and White-winged Crossbills arrived at the station, close to 200 of them. The weather was variable, some days it was over 30 degrees, then it would break and we would have an intense storm over night. It seemed that the warmer days after the storms resulted in more captures. We caught a lot of adult birds that were just finishing their flight feather molt, some that had already finished (Yellow Warblers) and a few birds were starting to carry fat. We started to catch the migrating “Traill’s” Flycatchers and stopped catching the resident Duskys that we were catching at the MAPS stations. The most numerous catches for the week included: “Traill’s” Flycatchers, Least Flycatchers, Song and White-crowned Sparrows and Yellow Warblers. We were only catching adult ”Traill’s” and only juvenile Yellow Warblers. It also seems that the adult Cowbirds have already left CHIP. There were a few juveniles, but they were becoming fewer and fewer as the days passed.
Period 9 in MAPS marked the beginning of the rush of juveniles and the end of vocal adults.
At Rodeo Grounds we caught our first juvenile Least Flycatchers, a couple of juvenile Swainson’s Thrushes and a juvenile Gray Catbird. The difference in the color of the eyes between adult and juvenile catbirds is striking! The Robins have stopped singing at the site, but for some reason we have tons of vocal Swainson’s. We hadn’t heard them at Rodeo until today, let alone caught any. A good start to period nine, with few recaps but many, many juvenile birds including: House Wrens, Leasts, Gray Catbirds, Swainson’s, Redstarts and Song Sparrows.
At Old Baldy the Yellow Warblers, White-crowned, Black Headed Grosbeaks, Black capped chickadees, Veerys, Clay-colored Sparrows, Pewees and Leasts were still singing, but we didn’t hear Robins, House Wrens, Song sparrows or Common Yellowthroats. We caught a lot of juvenile Cedar Waxwings and a very interesting thing was happening; adult Cedar Waxwings AND American Robins were getting very upset. The Cedar waxwings would start making alarm noises and within ten seconds there would be no less than five Robins perched above the net screaming.
At Spruce Coulee just over half the birds caught were juveniles. The new juveniles were Yellow Warblers, a Ruby Crowned Kinglet and a Dusky. Like the Robins at Old Baldy who got upset over juvenile Cedars in the net, we had families of chickadees getting upset when juvenile Sapsuckers were caught. It got much quieter at Spruce Coulee. Originally it was by far the most vocal site, now the only birds we heard consistently were Veerys, Pewees, Least Flycatchers and House Wrens.
Period 10 in MAPS was a Juvenile- Superperiod without a doubt.
By period 10 the sites were becoming very quiet, fall is approaching. The grasses at Rodeo grounds were over our heads, the mosquitoes finally dwindled in numbers, the dragon flies were around by the thousands and fewer and fewer birds were heard singing. At Old Baldy there were still tons of Saskatoon berries and almost all the birds we caught had berry-stained beaks. The meadow at Spruce Coulee had been essentially taken over by Bull Thistle and roses – but there were still some Saskatoon berries, lots of hawthorn berries and some raspberries. The mornings (before 9am) were incredibly busy; we generally caught ¾ of our birds in the first four net runs. We caught mostly juveniles in Period 10; always significantly more than half the birds caught were hatch year birds. We started seeing some crossbills fly through, but it seemed that the migration had not yet begun. It is important in MAPS that migrating birds not be caught, that’s why the study has been carefully placed in the peak of summer during breeding. If migrating birds are caught it skews the population estimates for the area.
So the MAPS project has ended at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and the Fall Migration Monitoring begins at the same station we were banding at in the spring.