More bird banding at the TR Sanctuary (October 30, November 13 and 20, 2010)

Thanks to Harvey Farber and Anne, bird banding continued at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center through late fall and into winter (with some dates banding down at Tobay)

. With the TR Sanctuary’s feeders getting increasingly busy with each cold snap, Harvey brought his mist-nets and walk-in traps in an attempt to pick up some interesting feeder birds.

One of the first things we learned, and something that was a big surprise to me, was the population of Downy Woodpeckers (DOWO) in the TRSAC neighborhood. Having spent a great deal of time at the Sanctuary and countless hours watching the feeders during the colder months, everybody had been assuming that there were two breeding pairs of DOWO hanging around the area – that is, there were always one or two pairs, male and female together, and they seemed to rotate through the feeder area and back through the grounds of the Sanctuary.

Within the first hour of banding Downy Woodpeckers began hitting the nets. First one hit the nets and became stuck and started calling. Then another flew in and hit the nets and now two were calling. Watching from inside, we didn’t want to leave the DOWO hanging there for too long (although in nice weather I imagine a DOWO might be able to survive hanging all day). Letting the birds stay in the net for just a few minutes, maybe 10 or 15, more DOWO began flying into the nets and soon there were four. Our two pairs were present and accounted for and would all get banded on the first day!

Then a fifth DOWO hit the nets, and a sixth, and a seventh, and an eighth. I don’t remember the exact number of DOWO we banded, but our estimates were off by at least 100% and possibly much more. We haven’t been able to resume banding for a long while, mostly due to the holiday schedule, travel plans, and weather, but watching the feeders as I often do, I mostly see banded DOWO eating suet and still the occasional unbanded bird.

Sunrise from Tobay - on this morning, I learned about the interesting non-avian business going on at Tobay (from a gentleman who was also enjoying the sunrise).
Harvey set this trap in the parking lot to attempt to capture a Herring Gull. The HEGU hung around our banding station every time! After a couple of visits, I gave him a handout. I found a dead Yellow-rumped Warbler in the bushes where I'd seen some feral cats. The bird's brain had been removed, but it was otherwise intact. The HEGU ate it up in one bite!
Here are the legs of one strange YRWA. As you can see, the feet show clear signs of some strange build-up. Is it disease? Fungus? Very recently I saw something similar that a veterinarian disected. The result? Old spider webs!
Another view of the YRWA's strange foot ailment.
A crowd sitting on the couch at TRSAC, observing the birds at the feeders and hoping for a good haul!
Blue Jay (BLJA) in-hand
Harvey admiring this BLJA
Feather-detail of the BLJA
Another angle of the BLJA
White-breasted Nuthatch (WBNU) in-hand
Another angle of the WBNU
At some point, Anne often brings out some of the Sanctuary birds for a brief creature-feature, especially if the wild birds aren't keeping us too busy! In this photo, Anne is holding a Harris's Hawk (HAHA).
Anne and the HAHA
Close-up of the HAHA.
Harvey teaching visitors the safe process of removing birds from mist-nets. This bird is a Tufted Titmouse (TUTI)
Carol Anne and Rudy observe the TUTI
Anne holding one of the aforementioned DOWO.
Another view of the DOWO
Another volunteer, Fredy, holding a DOWO
Fredy posing the DOWO
Normally, the bird banding isn't appropriate for younger audiences, but these folks happened to walk by and Harvey gave a brief demonstration of another DOWO
Harvey and DOWO

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