Saturday, May 25, 2024

Fifty-one bird species banded at Crown Point, including two juvenile Red Crossbills

Girl releases banded bird

I spent the week at the Crown Point Banding Station where we had enough rain on a couple of days that we had to close the nets. One night a thunderstorm rolled through that put me to sleep, but it knocked down some birds that we caught the next morning. Most of the other days it was haphazard. A total of 114 birds were seen or heard in the trees and sky around the site, but many never got into our mist nets. We had a total of 51 different species banded.

We caught a juvenile Red Crossbill; a new bird for the site. There was a small flock of ten or twelve flying around the site, feeding on the big white pinecone crop. We caught a second juvenile the next day. This bird was never on our site list as they would normally be gone north by this time. When they are around and there is a good cone crop, they will nest and have young during the winter months, as do White-Winged Crossbills and Pine Siskins.

With all the Pine Siskins I’ve banded this spring, many of them were young. They were born during the winter somewhere south of us that had a big cone crop. I have banded around 200 in the last month and a half, and they are still coming as I look under the feeders there are many that are not banded. A small bear found the feeders the night before I came home and had a snack. I will get the electric fence back up and feed again when the bugs taper off.

I had a deer fly bite me as I was feeding the trout. That would be a first. They have come out in July and August for years now, and they are out and biting in May. For years, when they came out, the black flies were done except at higher elevations. There are no black flies at Crown Point as there are no cold running streams nearby. We did have a few mosquitoes and only a couple June bugs were seen, but none in the nets which are not fun to take out just before breakfast.

For years, the Yellow-Rumped Warbler was the leader in numbers caught and banded. In fact, some years they would compete with the American Goldfinch, but I do not remember the Goldfinch ever winning. One year, we banded over 600 of the Warblers and two years ago it was down to one, as they had already gone north before we got our nets up. This year, we caught a few Yellow Rumps, but no record, for sure, as many were already on territory. Then, for a change, it was the Blue Jays against the Gray Catbirds, but the Catbirds never won.

Bird held by a man

New bird, a Juvenile Red Crossbill, held by Gordon Howard. Photo by Gary Lee.

Two years ago, there were over 350 Blue Jays that we banded. This year, there were some Blue Jays, but nowhere near the leader in the count. We did catch and band several Gray Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles, and Common Grackles. However, they could not keep up with the White-Throated Sparrows which we caught every day and ended up with 140 to win top honors. That is a bird that many people hear as they visit the Adirondacks. These birds live around most every lake and stream in the Adirondack Park. They sing their “Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody” song that most visitors can mimic.

We had many good volunteers this year, both picking and banding birds under supervision. Some are trying to get a Federal License to band and keep a record of birds taken out of the net and bird species banded for that process. A few others helped us with setting up and taking down the site tents and nets, which makes things go very smoothly. The Crown Point Historic Site Manager and his staff are helpful with garbage, grass mowing before we set it up, and during the two weeks we are onsite.

This year, there is a group of students from Syracuse University who are doing an archaeological dig in various places on the site. Some where no one has ever done any digging and in others where soil had been moved, but never looked through. They had a drone flying
over the site that mapped contours of the site where they plan to dig. Some showing some of the features of the site when it was inhabited some by the French and some by the English.

At times, there were a few thousand people on the site, and old maps show where some lived and the structures that were outside the fort walls. Some of this mapping can pick up those sites. They will be working on this project for two years and will probably find interesting things as did the last dig a few years back.

Banding Hummers this weekend is not going to happen, maybe on July 4th weekend, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Student releases a male Baltimore Oriole. Photo by Gary Lee.

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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."

8 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Any accipiters banded this spring?

  2. Lake Reader says:

    I predict a time will come – hopefully soon – when the knowledge gained by banding birds- whatever it might be – will be ranked as minor & discoverable by other, more humane means. We should stop harassing bird life.

    • Boreas says:

      Until that day comes, there is really no better way to collect this critical data on live birds and to be able to track them.

      John James Audubon made the first huge strides in bird/mammal ecology by shooting his specimens in order to collect the data and create his famous artwork – mainly from carcasses. Luckily we have come up with some better options. Even going into the woods with or without binoculars has some effect on wildlife – whether or not it is measurable. Is it better not to study them in order to not distress them? A valid question. But considering the negative toll humanity imparts daily on Nature, I think we need to keep things in perspective. Indeed, benefit vs. risk should always be a consideration.

  3. Lake Reader says:

    The harm is obvious, I’d like to know specifics about the value of capturing & banding birds. If there is an article from a scientific journal that supports the value of this activity, please provide the citation. Needed information really can’t be captured via drones, satellites, etc.?

    John James Audubon’s 200th birthday has long since come & gone. It’s time to update the technology around bird science to eliminate cruel, unnecessary mistreatment of birds.

    • Boreas says:

      If you would like to know more about banding birds, I suggest you do your own research. There are numerous articles and organizations to be found. Or contact a certified bander and spend a day or two with them observing. The annual Crown Point Banding Station that jus ended up would have been an ideal place to get some first-hand knowledge. Maybe next year.

  4. Lake Reader says:

    If there really is value in banding birds – which I frankly have come to doubt – one would think it could easily be described, at least in general terms. Have there really been no advances in the science since Audubon’s day?

  5. Lake Reader says:

    Try it this way, let’s skip the scholarly articles. Just identify 1 or 2 significant accomplishments of bird banding programs in the last year.

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