Saturday, May 14, 2022

Banding birds at the Crown Point Banding Station in Essex County

I’m writing this from the Ticonderoga Public Library as I’m at the Crown Point Banding Station for two weeks banding birds. We’ve had nets up for four days and banded several birds but very few warblers, including two species of Warbler Palm and Yellow Warbler. Some Yellow Rumped Warblers have been seen in the area, but we have caught none.
Normally we catch more of these than any other bird, but not in the last couple years. Typically, it is a competition between them and American Goldfinch. We have caught several Goldfinch, but Blue Jays are ahead on the leaderboard by far and it doesn’t look like they will be beaten. Still another week and a half to go. These next few hot, sunny days aren’t very good days for catching birds as they fly right over the banding station heading north without stopping.

I don’t know what you’ve had for weather, but it has frozen three of the four mornings here and then it gets up into the sixties by the end of the day. For the rest of this week it looks like the afternoon temperatures are going to be even higher followed by some rain over the weekend. We may have missed the big wave of warblers as when I was picking litter along State Route 28 between the Seventh Lake Boat Launch and Eighth Lake Campsite last week I heard several of these birds calling on territory already.
These birds came north early (even before the big snowstorm event) and survived. The Osprey was on the nest in the setback of Seventh Lake and didn’t appreciate me picking litter under her nest. The male Loon that nests in the inlet to Seventh Lake flew up a couple times, gave a Tremolo [an aggressive response given when disturbed by a boater or predator], landed and yodeled after he was back on the water, claiming territory. I had Song Sparrows and White Throated Sparrows at my feeders before I went to Florida at the end of March.
We are catching new arrivals of both species at the banding station just today (May 10.) Looking ahead, we may get some species that we may never have caught in the 47 years the station has been running. I was just talking to a man today who came to visit the station and he mentioned Cerulean Warblers that nest on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain. I don’t know how many years ago it was, but one evening just before taking the nets down I caught a mystery warbler and we keyed it out to be a female of that species…the only one ever caught at the station.
With the weather patterns the way they have been, any bird is possible. Just a couple days ago there was a Summer Tanager at a feeder in the suburbs of Burlington, Vermont which is just across the lake as the crow flies. In the four days and nights we have been there we have seen or heard over 75 species of birds. The local flowers, trees. shrubs and asparagus are way behind what they have been in the past.
Lilacs are just showing their flower buds and they are normally out when we arrive, and the lake is up to a high level, but going down daily. The Hawthorne trees that were all over the grounds around the fort for protection are just coming into bud. In many of the leaf buds are little green caterpillars that feed on the leaves, then repel down to the ground on a fine white web. Most of the birds traveling through use the little caterpillars as a food source before they continue on their flight north. The birds that live onsite also use these as a source of food for themselves and their young.
The banding site is open for visitors, and we had quite a few over the weekend. Some had been to the station many times before Covid and others were there for the first time. Some got to have birds released in their name, so that banded bird would be theirs. Some folks who brought their children had been here as kids and had held a bird. They brought back their children to have that same experience.
We had one school group so far from Bolton…a very good group of children. One girl in the group had done a drawing of a Blue Jay and gave it to the master bander, Gordon Howard. It seems they had heard (or a little bird told them) that this was his favorite bird.
This is the third year we are taking tail feather samples for a private study that can determine from a couple tail feathers where this bird winters. We have gotten some good information from our feathers that we collected the first two years. There is a very good article in the latest Audubon magazine about this study. It is amazing what they can do with just a couple little feathers.
More from the banding station, but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top: A scene from the Crown Point Bird Banding Station in May of 2019. Photo by Adirondack Explorer reporter, Mike Lynch, archive photo. 

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

One Response

  1. Dave says:

    Handling and banding wild birds is a great way to spread avian virus. You would think they would be smart enough to hold off on banding until the threat is over.

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