Back in Inlet again where the leaves have popped out and I missed many of my daffodils as they bloomed during the warm spell while I was away. My little Yellow Lady’s Slippers are even starting to
bloom. Of course the blackflies are out, which is one thing I didn’t have to fight at the Crown Point Banding Station. There are no running water streams near the station so no blackflies, but we did have a few mosquitoes some evenings. We did see a few bats, which may have fed on these.
Another bug that gets into our nets while they are put up overnight is the June bug. They are not fun to pick out at daylight while putting up the nets, but we only had a few of these this year. The conclusion of our 47th year ended Saturday, May 21 with three new bird species that day. First was a Great Crested Flycatcher which had been singing since day one in the area. Number two was a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher that was heading north to a bog of choice, and the third was a Black- and- White Warbler which had been seen the day before and nearly the last bird caught on Saturday before we closed the nets.
This made our total number of different species 54, with 424 birds banded. We had 24 returns from other years, the oldest being a female Red-Winged Blackbird that was now 8 years old. We also got a beautiful male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak that was 4 years old. Some of these were what we call “student birds.” Our Hummingbird record of 7 banded was broken when we banded 17 and 3 others were released and not banded. We had 60 student birds released while we were there, mostly by the 4 school groups that visited the station.
Some of the children who didn’t get to release a bird while they were here with their class came back with their parents on another day and got to release a bird. If these birds return in another year and they are caught again, these people will be notified that their bird has returned. Many of these birds are residents around the station site and will be caught during another year while banding here. These birds may also be caught at other banding stations or be a window hit and reported to the Bird Banding Lab in Laurel, Maryland with the information on their bands.
The Blue Jays led in number of birds banded at over 150, with American Goldfinch, Gray Catbirds and Common Yellow Throats following in numbers banded. We had a count of 128 bird species seen and heard around the site area for the 2 weeks we were there. One bird we almost missed (which almost always leads in the number species banded) was the Yellow-Rumped Warbler and we only banded one that I picked out of the net during that last week. Some others were seen in the area, but not caught. I believe the major migration of this species had already gone north before we set up the nets on May 6 . I had them singing on territory while picking garbage the first week of May in the Inlet area.
The best bird (of course) was the Yellow-Breasted Chat which had only been recorded in Essex County twice ever. For the third year we participated in the Bird Genoscape Project which aims to unlock avian DNA secrets that reveal where birds migrate and their resilience to mounting pressures. From just 2 tail feathers taken from certain bird species this information can be found. This year we completed taking feathers from American Goldfinch, Common Yellow Throat, Song Sparrow, Gray Catbirds and (newly added this year) Blue Jay, with feathers taken from 100 birds of each species in the 3-year period.
We also took feathers from several other species which migrate through and are caught at the station. Using just a few of the tail feather parts near the end of the feather quill this information can be
gathered, which I think is absolutely amazing. There is an article called Birds of a Feather in the new Audubon Magazine called The Wonder of Migration which describes the process and what results have been found.
We had many new visitors to the Banding Station and trained several new people who wish to help at the station in the future, both in picking birds from the nets and record keeping after a bird is captured. Many also helped put up the nets on the first day and then helped to take down the nets on the last day. We would like to thank Lisa Polay, Site Manager for the Crown Point Historical Site and her staff for their help and grass mowing while we were there which kept the ticks at bay.
Ted Hicks and I will be banding Hummingbirds at the Stillwater Hotel on Stillwater Reservoir on Sunday, May 29 from 8 to 11 a.m., all are welcome. A little blackfly protection may be needed.
Many early Spring flowers have come and gone, and others are out, but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top: Gordon Howard banding a Yellow-Breasted Chat at the Crown Point Bird Banding Station. Photo by Gary Lee.