Fall passerine migration monitoring has now ended. Weather this fall has been particularly challenging with high winds, precipitation and cool weather on many mornings. On October 3, there was nearly an inch of snow at the station.
This hatch year Harris’s Sparrow from September 19 is the first individual of this species ever captured at CHIP. Harris’s Sparrows are never a common bird in Alberta, but some do pass through during migration. They seem to be more abundant this year as a minimum of four individuals have been seen around the banding station.
It has also been an exceptional year for Brown Creepers at CHIP as six individuals have already been banded this fall. That number shatters the previous fall record of zero.
This adult female Belted Kingfisher was a real treat as the majority of the BEKIs we have caught have been juveniles. If you look closely, three generations of flight feathers can be identified allowing us to age this bird as an after second year.
Dark-eyed Juncos are a fairly common capture during the latter half of fall migration. The majority banded are of the northern and eastern “Slate-colored” race but other subspecies also move through. “Pink-sided” Juncos, such as the one pictured below, breed at higher elevations in pine forests of the Cypress Hills, the only place they occur regularly in Canada.
This Spotted Towhee caught on October 9 was the only one captured during fall migration. Also that day were 3 Harris’s and 2 Fox sparrows observed in the census area.
Northern Saw-whet Owl monitoring began on September 25 and despite the poor weather monitoring has been possible the majority of the nights. This hatch year female was the first owl captured this year at the Elkwater Lake site. Saw-whet Owl calls are played on repeat to draw the birds into the banding site where they are captured in mist nets and specialized owl nets. Black lights are used to aid in aging owls as fresh feathers will glow bright pink under the UV while older generations of feathers only show a hint of coloration. Owl monitoring will continue until the end of October.
This species has two distinct sub-populations. The Eastern “Yellow” subspecies is rarely reported west of Quebec, while the “Western” subspecies is regularly caught during fall migration in the Cypress Hills.