Here I am again at the Ticonderoga Library, getting a break from the Crown Point Banding Station after catching some nice birds this morning [May 16.] [We will be] looking out for some thunderstorms this afternoon, which should knock down some birds that have been flying right over us for a couple days. We caught some new birds (for this year) to band this morning, [including] Tree Swallow, Canada Warbler, and a Brown Thrasher just before I left (which is the bird on the cover of the bird list for the Crown Point Historic Site.)
We’ve had some nice groups of people so far this banding season. The Croaked Canes group were there one morning, and nearly everyone who wanted to hold a bird got to. Just before they left, a lady in the group said, “You have bird down there in the net.” I looked down and saw some red and black, figuring it was a Red Wing Blackbird. As I got closer to the bird, I saw it was bigger than a Blackbird and it had some white under a large black wing…it was a Pileated Woodpecker.
We usually catch one a season, but I had never taken one out of the net before. I knew you had to hold the head and feet, as both [are] serious weapons. It was only caught by one foot in the net, and I couldn’t get that out while holding both of the other weapons it had. Master bander Gordon Howard came to my rescue and got its foot out, and we took it up to the banding table to give it a band. Cameras were snapping and some cell phones were videotaping the banding operation. One brave soul even volunteered to release the bird, so I handed it over to him as he got hold of the head and feet. It was a quick release, but some got him holding the bird and it is on video.
Sunrise at the Crown Point Banding Station on May 16. Photo by Gary Lee.
We had one school group from Bolton School and several of those students got to hold a bird. We just had a run of Black-Capped Chickadees which aren’t the most fun to hold for release, but several did release them. We also had a Blue Jay and a couple warblers, Yellow and Yellow-Rumped. We have another school coming this week from Keene. We also had another school group coming from Vermont, but their bus broke down and they hadn’t made it yet.
While I’m here [at the station,] I clean out all the Bluebird houses, which I’ve put up over the years. Most had a House Wren nest in them as the last nest which were built over other bird’s nests from Chickadees, Bluebirds, and Tree Swallows. [I] found one Bluebird and one Tree Swallow already on a nest, so they didn’t get cleaned out. We now have two kestrel boxes on the site and one was used last year where they raised a family. Probably the same pair is using the box again this year. The osprey platform out by the lake is also being used. I believe they have already hatched, as one of our volunteers found the eggshells in one of the net lanes.
One bird that we had only caught a total of four in previous years has been caught every day we’ve been here (I believe)…and that is the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. I picked three from one net just this morning, and a couple others were caught, bringing the total to 28 so far this season. I think they even lead the Black-Capped Chickadee and Yellow-Rumped Warbler, but they aren’t going to catch the Blue Jays (after catching 52 the first day, 82 the third day, and several others on the other days.) I don’t know if the Blue Jays will break their record of 315 set a couple years back now. While I’m here, I always check out the wildflowers on the site and pick a little asparagus for supper in the process.
Cuckoo flowers. Photo by Gary Lee.
One plant that I found up by Bug Lake in [the] back of the Eighth Lake Campsite a few years ago was [the] Cuckoo Flower. When I found it, there were so many, I thought someone had dumped a seed packet there…but they were just growing wild. I got some seeds from them and I now have them in my garden. Just down our main net lane there are some [Cuckoo flowers] growing that I found a couple years ago. [Folks on] the site mow these trails (bird and ski trails) and mow down the flowers. Just this morning, I went to the end of the net lane, looked further down the path, and it was white with Cuckoo flowers. I had to take a few photos of them, [and I will] probably send them to NCPR.
We will be closing down the banding station on Saturday [May 20], this being the 48th continuous year of operation. Ted Hicks and I will be at the Stillwater Restaurant either Saturday or Sunday of Memorial [Day] Weekend [May 27 and 28] banding Hummingbirds. We try to pick the best day weather-wise, as it’s not fun banding in the rain. We work this out with Marian, so she can [advertise] which day we will be coming. We set up about 7 a.m. and band until 11 a.m. or [until] we run out of birds. [We] hope to see some of you there.
The totals from the Crown Point [Banding Station] will be coming out next week, but that’s another story. See ya.
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."
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Thanks for the update Gary. Sounds like you had a good year! For some reason I thought you banded for another week down there. Thanks again for the work and education opportunities provided by the staff!
Thank you Gary and Gordon for hosting our Crooked Canes group. We all thoroughly enjoyed our morning with you and learned much. The guest appearance of Lady Pileated Woodpecker was greatly appreciated, too!