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.