Saturday, May 11, 2024

Return of hummingbirds, and banding at Crown Point Banding Station

Tom turkey

April showers bring May flowers and the leaves greening on the trees. Yesterday, May 5, you could almost watch them grow and get greener by the minute. Karen kept watch for our Hummingbirds to return and they did on Friday, May 3, four days earlier than ever before. Paul Bozard out in Salamanca, who is a friend and Ranger School classmate from ’63, reported that Hummingbirds came to his feeders an hour after he put them up on April 27.

Hummingbird reports came in all week, including from Deborah Haynes in Inlet on May 1, Loretta Kaye in Otter Lake on May 2, and then several more reports came in from all over the area. There are a lot of wildflowers and garden flowers in bloom, so they may not be so dependent on the feeders. Marian up at the Stillwater Restaurant had them on May 3 and many more to come, I’m sure. Ted Hicks the Hummingbird bander and I will be up there on Memorial Weekend either Saturday or Sunday depending on the weather. We will let Marian know when the time gets closer so you can plan to watch the banding operation and maybe get to hold a Hummingbird in hand.

Another banding operation that is going on now is at the Crown Point Banding Station which is being done in the thickets behind the Fort at the Crown Point Historical Site. I got over on Friday, May 3, to help with setting up the station’s tents, rain shelters and we even got all the nets up before I left at three that afternoon. We even had a few birds in hand and banded before I left. We banded a couple of Blue Jays, a Song Sparrow, and several White-Throated Sparrows. We had several volunteers help clear the net lanes and put up the structures. Actually, we are all volunteers at the station, but the banders are all licensed with federal banding and state banding permits.

We have several other volunteers who are learning how to take birds from the nets under supervision and band the birds under supervision and record that data. This is the 49th year the station has been in operation. It is one of the oldest banding stations to run every year since Mike Peterson started it with a couple of nets in the hawthorn thickets in 1974. When I started helping on my days off the station ran until Memorial weekend, nearly the whole month. Mike only had a couple nets when it started, but the station grew as we had more help and volunteers. Now we are putting up nineteen nets in six locations in the thickets and a field net and we open four Potter traps on the ground.

Red trillium

Red trillium. Photo by Gary Lee.

You just never know what you might catch as birds do fly, and some western birds fly east so every day you might find a surprise in the net. A couple years ago now Gordon Howard, one of our Master Banders, came back to the banding table and said to us, “We need to sit down and have a chat.” He had a bird in a bag, so we all gathered around the banding table a little after seven in the morning. He pulled out a Yellow-Breasted Chat which is the biggest warbler, and it doesn’t normally travel this far north. It was a first for the banding station and it was banded and photographed for the records. So, with this crazy weather and winds blowing from all directions, there’s no telling what might show up in the nets on any given day.

I picked up litter along State Route 28 from the Seventh Lake Boat Launch to Eighth Lake Campsite, the same area I’ve done for a few years now. I bought a handy litter picker, so I don’t have to bend over anymore. Instead, I can just latch on to the litter (or can or bottle) and in the bucket or garbage bag it goes. It is so much easier…why didn’t I do that years ago? I borrowed one from the maintenance guys on Sanibel Island which had a longer reach so you didn’t have to get off the boardwalks there. I always picked litter every day while I was there. I just cannot walk past a piece of litter no matter where I am. Karen says, “You don’t have to pick it up”…but I do.

There was less litter this time than other years when I’ve done this route. All I can say is we had less visitors during the winter than normal with the shortage of snow. Many others mentioned this as we ate together at the Eagle Bay Firehall for a great lunch on Community Pride Day. No treasures were found that day except a remote plow control. That was found in the area where a pick-up truck went in the ditch just this side of the Eighth Lake Campsite on the opposite side of the road. That must have been some ride down that ditch. As I do the pickup, I listen for birds along the way and watch as there are many wildflowers along this route. Trout lilies and even red trillium are out already.

I found a dead Yellow-Rumped Warbler on the shoulder by Cathedral Pines Trail. Someone was nice enough to steal that sign during the eclipse weekend event. Someone also took the Loon Protection sign from the Seventh Lake Boat Launch. People can just ask…I have forty more in my garage, free for the asking. The big Tom Turkey was under the feeder on May 2 and Friday morning as I was filling my bird feeders, a couple turkey hunters came down the trail. The Tom was gobbling no more than three hundred feet down the trail.

Just as I was getting in my truck, three shots rang out not far down the trail and I haven’t seen the Tom since. Three shots normally means they missed the first shot, and it flew up and they shot twice more as if it was in the air. I don’t know if they got the bird or not.

I hope to get over to the Crown Point Banding Station for the second week, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Tom Turkey. 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."

One Response

  1. Dana says:

    I have fond memories of visiting the Crown Point station in May when you and Mike were there. I really miss visiting Mike there and we would sometimes participate in the E-town CBC not long before he passed. So I enjoy your stories and lore from CP banding station.

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