Fall Migration Monitoring Part 2!

With lots of wind and rain the 2014 season ended with a bit of a whimper, though many interesting birds found their way into our mist nets. Even though we were only able to band on a record low of 56 days an 3301 net hours we still managed to band a total of  1185 new birds, surpassing the 2013 fall total by 63 individuals.

We were able two add two new species to our Fall Migration Monitoring list, one of which was only the second record of the species for Alberta, the other the Broad-winged Hawk mentioned in the last post. Record numbers for multiple species were also recorded. As mentioned in the previous post it was an incredible year for Belted Kingfishers with 13 banded. We doubled our fall records for Blue-headed Vireo and Harris’s Sparrow with 2 each. Only one previous HASP had been captured at CHIP in the fall of 2013. Other record numbers included  Tennessee Warbler (20), Blackpoll Warbler (9), Clay-colored Sparrow (72), Song Sparrow (47), Lincoln’s Sparrow (24), and  Swamp Sparrow (7).


An interesting comparison of a Clay-colored Sparrow (left) and Chipping Sparrow (right) showing the difference in flight feather length and the long tailed effect that it gives this young Clay-coloured Sparrow. (Photo Kim Wetten)

Another interesting bird captured this fall was a stunning Marsh Wren that wound up in net 12. This is only the third one to be captured at CHIP, the previous two in the falls of 2011 and 2012.


Marsh Wren captured at CHIP! (Photo: Kim Wetten)

It was a great year for raptors at chip with the Merlin in the spring, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, the Broad-winged Hawk from earlier this fall and this massive young female Cooper’s Hawk that ended up in net 5. Kim and I went for a little walk after a net run and noticed a large accipiter sitting in a tree close to net 12, as we walked back the bird flushed towards our net lanes. Not wanting to miss an awesome bird we sprinted down the net lanes in time to watch it bounce out of two nets and get hung up by a foot in the third. We both had a couple war wounds by the time she was banded and a couple photos were taken, but it was so worth it.

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Cooper’s Hawk in the hand! (Photo: Kim Wetten)


The weighing process… Eventually she lifted her tail off the table and we were able to get an accurate weight. (Photo: Kim Wetten)

The best bird of the fall and arguably the best bird ever captured at CHIP was this beautiful hatch-year Yellow-throated Vireo. Needless to say it was a first for CHIP and only the second ever recorded in Alberta! The first was captured and banded at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary some years ago. It was definitely a surprise to find sitting in the bottom trammel of net 1.  After the banding process we spent the time to take a few photos and document this incredible find.


Yellow-throated Vireo banded at CHIP!!! (Photo: Kim Wetten)

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The release! Yellow-throated Vireo at CHIP! Second Provincial record. (Photo: Kim Wetten)

To wrap it up I will make a quick note on this years NSWO project. Our new lab made it much more comfortable and easy to run the project this year. We were able to band a whopping 80 new Northern Saw-whet Owls this year, which was a new record for the Elkwater Lake site beating the previous record of 76 from 2011. Overall the weather cooperated and we were able to band most nights from the comfort of our lab.


Our BIC excited to be banding owls inside. Photo (Kim Wetten)


The first NSWO banded at CHIP in 2014. (Photo: Colton Prins)

We are looking forward to what 2015 has to bring! See you all soon.

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