The Crown Point Banding Station closed its doors on Saturday, May 20, with a good crew taking down tents, canopies, [a] weather station, and nets in short order by 11 a.m. The rain that was predicted went around us and the strong winds also didn’t come while we were picking up. Tom Barber had the nets up (and a few birds already bagged) when I got up at 5:30 a.m. He had picked six June bugs from the nets while putting them up and I found just one in the nets I put up. As I came out of the tent he said, “The Gray Catbirds are biting this morning and that was the first bird, I picked out of the main net lane.” He said, “I got a new bird for the year, a Brown-Headed Cowbird out of the North net.”
Alison Van Keuren, a new volunteer at the station, came before 6 a.m., and we were picking birds right away. Down the main net lane, we got a Blue Jay, a Bay-Breasted Warbler, and a Lincoln Sparrow. This was the first Bay-Breasted Warbler that he had ever banded. It was a female, but still very pretty and it was also a new bird for this year…making our total species number at 59 banded. We got a couple Hummers before our hummer bander Ted Hicks arrived…leaving that total caught and not banded at ten and 7 banded.
Then I heard someone call out another Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, bringing that total up to 40 banded. The most ever banded in two weeks in the 48 years the station has run was four. This was probably the most notable bird for the station, if in numbers only. The first one we caught was a male on Friday, May 5, and all the rest were females. So, that guy is going to [be] busy playing traveling salesman this spring. We saw and heard 112 species while at the station from reports of others who got away from the net lanes and did some birding around the grounds of the fort and out across the waters of Lake Champlain.
We had some very nice adult groups and school children visit the station during the two weeks, and many got to hold a bird for release. These people will get a certificate that they had released the bird and if it returns next year (or any following year) they will be notified. We call those “student birds,” as most of the birds released were by students but this year, we had several adults release a bird. We did get several return birds from former years this year, so these folks will be notified that their bird had returned.
Last week I mentioned that the Crooked Canes from the Capitol District visited the banding station and got a tour of the fort and museum. I got their first name wrong, calling them the “Croaked
Canes.” They were far from that, and since the word was spelled [correctly,] spell check doesn’t catch such mistakes…sorry about that, and they were a great group. Right at the end of their stay, we caught the Pileated Woodpecker and one of their group got to hold that bird for release. It was the first time I got to take that big bird out of our nets in the over 35 years I’ve been picking nets at Crown Point.
The last school group from Keene came on Friday, just before noon and we had no birds to show them or release. It always seems like when a school group comes, we do catch a bird or two no matter what time of day it is, and it again happened this day. Gordon Howard was just about done explaining all about what we do and how we do it, when I got a female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak out of one of the Potter Traps. The bird was banded last year, and it happened to be a student bird…now two students have it as their bird (just from different years.)
Then we caught a female American Redstart for Gordon to work with, then three Blue Jays hit the nets, and a few more birds got banded and released. Our Blue Jay total for the year was over 200, the most of any species. Other [noteworthy] numbers were the Black-Capped Chickadee at 125 and the Yellow-Rumped Warbler at 70. Normally, the Yellow-Rumped Warbler is leading the list, but not in the last few years as I think they have mostly migrated past our location before we set up.
Last year, we only caught one of them which was really strange as that bird has one of the biggest populations of any bird migrating in the United States. I don’t have the final figure for birds banded, but I believe it is over 750 birds. It was 735 late [on] Friday, and I know we caught more than 15 birds before we took the nets down and early the next morning before we pulled the nets for the year.
Banding Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds at Stillwater on Saturday, May 27 [from] 7 to 11 a.m., but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo at top: Gordon Howard banding a bird with the watchful eyes of children. Photo by Beth Edgley.