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After two months of banding we are done for the season here at TLBO. We had an excellent last day of banding as you can see from Anna’s post yesterday and I felt a little sad taking down the nets knowing there would be no more censuses this year, no bags of birds lined up in the lab waiting to be processed, and no more beautiful sunrises that cover the Niuts in a reddish glow each morning. Since arriving at the start of August the Tatlayoko Valley has found its way into my heart and I hope it will not be too long before I visit again.

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This season has been a very low volume season with 1087 birds banded, the lowest number banded at this station. We have speculated that this may be due to the intense fire season in British Columbia and this data could be very valuable in helping to determine the effect that forest fires may have on bird populations.

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Graph depicting total numbers of birds banded for each year TLBO has been in operation

While the volume of song birds was very low this season we had a record high capture rate of Northern Saw-whet Owls (NSWO) with 59 individuals banded. The previous high was in 2012 with 31 individuals banded. One of the NSWO’s banded on Sept. 18th was recaptured at Rocky Point Bird observatory on the 27th.

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Graph depicting NSWO banding totals showing total banded each year (in blue) as well as the number of nights spend banding (in red).

We have had a few first records this year including the first Black-headed Grosbeak observed and the first Chestnut-backed Chickadee banded. We also banded the first Merlin caught in standard mistnets. This was a also a first banding tick for me. Previously I had only banded in Ontario so I have been lucky enough to have many banding “ticks” at the station this year. My personal favourite was being able to band not one but two Northern Harriers (four were banded here this season). Other personal banding highlights were Varied Thrush, Steller’s Jay, Mountain Chickadee and a myriad of western empidomax flycatchers. The empids are a notoriously hard group of species to identify in the field (or in the hand for that matter) and it was nice to get a close look and confirm with measurements to help improve my field ID.

Overall I have had a fantastic time at TLBO and have many people to thank and hope I do not miss anyone. BC Spaces for Nature, NCC, Joerg Fischer for his charitable donations, Avery Bartels for finding time to answer my multitude of questions while running RPBO, Candice Ford for allowing us to invade her space and the amazing residents of Tatlayoko who made us feel very welcome. I want to thank Anna who has been an excellent assistant bander and a great well of knowledge to tap into. Lastly, and certainly not least I want to thank the volunteers who have donated their time and energy into making this season work.

I will leave you with a photo I have posted before. this is one of the first photos I took of the mountains here on a calm day which only captures a hint of the true beauty of this valley.

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The Niuts reflecting off the calm lagoon. Once again the photo is flipped upside down!

Happy birding!

-Kyle Cameron

Total Banded 1105
Species Banded 56
Total Recapped 144
Species Recapped 21
Species Recorded 132

Species Banded Recapped
Lincoln’s Sparrow 189 26
Song Sparrow 156 34
Common Yellowthroat 112 36
Swainson’s Thrush 90 12
Northern Saw-whet Owl 59 0
Warbling Vireo 52 1
Savannah Sparrow 44 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 40 0
Yellow Warbler 35 2
White-crowned Sparrow 33 5
Wilson’s Warbler 32 0
Oregon Junco 29 0
American Redstart 28 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 22 0
Northern Waterthrush 21 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 20 3
Black-capped Chickadee 15 9
Hermit Thrush 13 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 11 0
Chipping Sparrow 10 0
Cedar Waxwing 9 5
Dusky Flycatcher 8 0
Fox Sparrow 6 1
Townsend’s Warbler 5 0
Vesper Sparrow 5 0
Varied Thrush 5 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4 0
Northern Harrier 4 0
Willow Flycatcher 3 1
Spotted Towhee 3 1
Downy Woodpecker 3 1
Cassin’s Vireo 3 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3 0
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Brown Creeper 3 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 2 0
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 0
American Robin 2 0
Steller’s Jay 2 0
Evening Grosbeak 2 0
Pileated Woodpecker 2 0
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1 0
Western Tanager 1 0
Indigo Bunting 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Least Flycatcher 1 0
Mountain Chickadee 1 0
Pacific Wren 1 0
Marsh Wren 1 0
Clay-colored Sparrow 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Red-winged Blackbird 1 0
Purple Finch 1 0
Merlin 1 0
Western Wood-pewee 1 0
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 1 0
Red-naped Sapsucker 0 1
Hairy Woodpecker 0 1
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This is it, the last monitoring day of the season. For the first time during the season, we banded Song Sparrows and Song Sparrows, and…Song Sparrows. Mostly just them in the nets, wherever we went. A total of 16 Song Sparrows out of 24 birds banded. But then near the last net round, I heard Kyle say on the radio: “…come to net 14!”. This is the “jackpot net 14” that constantly captures the highest number of birds. I ran there, not sure what to expect, and then found myself facing two Pileated Woodpeckers. The rest is history. Kyle told us about the first and last Pileated Woodpecker he banded, also on the last monitoring day, at Innis Point Bird Observatory (Ottawa, ON). Strange? There’s more.

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Pileated Woodpecker, male. Females do not have red on the forecrown, nor on the malar stripe, both of which would instead be black.

Last night, the last owling night of the season, we closed with six owls–and the northern lights. It was our first time seeing them in the valley. We all agreed that we had never seen such exceptional, colourful northern lights before, dancing and pulsing. They were covering about half of the sky.

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Northern lights after the peak. Photo by Kyle.

Stay tuned for the recap of the season (!); Kyle will write it tomorrow. We took down all the nets this afternoon, packed up all monitoring equipment and organized the station. All that is left is to submit data in the monitoring database and pack up our personal belongings, and we’re good to go.

My last two months had been a remarkable experience. I thank everyone involved in making this experience possible, including Avery, without whom I would not be here; Kyle; Candice; Hana; Sally; the exceptional volunteers, Constanza, Gwyn, Laurel and Sachi; Peter; the visiting students and their relatives; and many other great and generous people.

Take care, everyone,

Anna.

Total Banded 1089
Species Banded 56
Total Recapped 144
Species Recapped 21
Species Recorded 132

Species Banded Recapped
Lincoln’s Sparrow 189 26
Song Sparrow 156 34
Common Yellowthroat 112 36
Swainson’s Thrush 90 12
Warbling Vireo 52 1
Savannah Sparrow 44 1
Northern Saw-whet Owl 43 0
Orange-crowned Warbler 40 0
Yellow Warbler 35 2
White-crowned Sparrow 33 5
Wilson’s Warbler 32 0
Oregon Junco 29 0
American Redstart 28 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 22 0
Northern Waterthrush 21 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 20 3
Black-capped Chickadee 15 9
Hermit Thrush 13 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 11 0
Chipping Sparrow 10 0
Cedar Waxwing 9 5
Dusky Flycatcher 8 0
Fox Sparrow 6 1
Townsend’s Warbler 5 0
Vesper Sparrow 5 0
Varied Thrush 5 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4 0
Northern Harrier 4 0
Willow Flycatcher 3 1
Spotted Towhee 3 1
Downy Woodpecker 3 1
Cassin’s Vireo 3 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3 0
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Brown Creeper 3 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 2 0
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 0
American Robin 2 0
Steller’s Jay 2 0
Evening Grosbeak 2 0
Pileated Woodpecker 2 0
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1 0
Western Tanager 1 0
Indigo Bunting 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Least Flycatcher 1 0
Mountain Chickadee 1 0
Pacific Wren 1 0
Marsh Wren 1 0
Clay-colored Sparrow 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Red-winged Blackbird 1 0
Purple Finch 1 0
Merlin 1 0
Western Wood-pewee 1 0
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 1 0
Red-naped Sapsucker 0 1
Hairy Woodpecker 0 1

Today we all woke up in a fog. No, literally a thick valley bottom fog that took its sweet time dissipating. When the sun finally burned it off we were treated to a bluebird day filled with all the golden, orange and red hues of the fall.

With respect to banding today was a bit more active than yesterday seeing 14 birds banded of 8 species and 4 recaptures comprised of 4 species. The highlight of the day was our first Mountain Chickadee of the season! This little bird inspired some pretty inventive puns from Kyle as it was his first time banding a Mountain Chickadee. The Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) is one of the 4 species of chickadees that can be seen in this valley. This tiny bird can be best differentiated from its cousins by a distinctive white stripe over the eye which always makes me think of a backwoods outlaw or a bandit. If you use the Black-capped Chickadee’s call as a reference point the Mountain’s call is harsh – often described as “scolding” while the Chestnut-backed sounds more like a squeaky toy and the Boreal is nasal and scratchy.

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Our Mountain Chickadee, note the white stripe above the eye – photo credit Anna

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A closeup of his deformed bill due to a possible lack of nutrients while in the nest. Poor guy – photo credit Anna

Today we observed multiple large groups of Black-capped Chickadees and Oregon Dark-eyed Juncos foraging in the fall light. Whenever I turned my head, there was a Golden-crowned kinglet vocalizing as it fluttered from branch to branch.  Raptors were absent with a Cooper’s Hawk as our only sighting. The 2 Chestnut-Backed Chickadees were sighted again along with a single Brewer’s Blackbird. The highlight of the day for me was seeing my first Swamp Sparrow. This is the 9th recorded sighting at the station (according to eBird) of this rare migrant to the valley. They are very striking with bright rufus wings and crown with solid grey on the sides of their necks giving the appearance (to me that is) of wearing a fancy hood.

Come sunset we will embark on our last night of owling. Fingers crossed that we get some owls as it would be nice to end the owling season much like it began. Also, this will be my final TLBO blog post for the season. Thank you for reading along and bearing with my rambling posts.

Happy birding!

Cheers,

-Sachi

Total Banded 1065
Species Banded 55
Total Recapped 143
Species Recapped 21
Species Recorded 132

Species Banded Recapped
Lincoln’s Sparrow 188 26
Song Sparrow 140 33
Common Yellowthroat 112 36
Swainson’s Thrush 90 12
Warbling Vireo 52 1
Savannah Sparrow 44 1
Northern Saw-whet Owl 43 0
Orange-crowned Warbler 40 0
Yellow Warbler 35 2
White-crowned Sparrow 33 5
Wilson’s Warbler 32 0
Oregon Junco 29 0
American Redstart 28 2
Northern Waterthrush 21 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 20 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 20 0
Black-capped Chickadee 15 9
Hermit Thrush 11 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 11 0
Chipping Sparrow 10 0
Cedar Waxwing 9 5
Dusky Flycatcher 8 0
Fox Sparrow 5 1
Townsend’s Warbler 5 0
Vesper Sparrow 5 0
Varied Thrush 5 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4 0
Northern Harrier 4 0
Willow Flycatcher 3 1
Spotted Towhee 3 1
Downy Woodpecker 3 1
Cassin’s Vireo 3 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3 0
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Brown Creeper 3 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 2 0
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 0
American Robin 2 0
Steller’s Jay 2 0
Evening Grosbeak 2 0
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1 0
Western Tanager 1 0
Indigo Bunting 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Least Flycatcher 1 0
Mountain Chickadee 1 0
Pacific Wren 1 0
Marsh Wren 1 0
Clay-colored Sparrow 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Red-winged Blackbird 1 0
Purple Finch 1 0
Merlin 1 0
Western Wood-pewee 1 0
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 1 0
Red-naped Sapsucker 0 1
Hairy Woodpecker 0 1

Opened nets at 8:30 this morning because of juuust enough raindrops to be of concern. I went on census walk with Kyle. It was a quiet morning with 22 species censused.  A funny highlight: As we were nearing the lake, as part of the census route, I was thinking about Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), particularly how I have not seen any since I left Washington, then, a perfect representative of the species exited a tree very close to us. It felt like I materialized it with my reverent thoughts.

Picidae is the family of birds that includes Woodpeckers. We banded three today! One Hairy woodpecker and two Downy woodpeckers (double-down). These two species look nearly identical in the field high up above spectators’ heads, so a quick trick to determine Hairy vs. Downy is by the length of bill in relation to head length. Hairys’ bills are roughly the same length as the head while Downys’ bills are about 1/3 of the head length. I think Anna’s hand can attest to the larger size of a Hairy’s bill! Anyway, we banded three but there were two more in close vicinity.  Kyle trotted back with the two Downys and told us that while he was extracting them there were 2 Hairys watching him do so from a nearby tree.

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Hairy Woodpecker gently yet firmly grasped by Anna’s right hand.

Additionally, today was a day of RECAPS (recaptured birds).  When we get these, unless we banded them earlier that same day, we take measurements as usual and let them go. We had 6 recaps and only 6 newly banded individuals. Kyle banded 5 owls. No owl recaps yet.

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Us.

Welp, thats all I got for today.  Also, seeing as we are done for the season on the 28th, this is my final blog entry. Bye friends!

-Laurelllll

September 25th, 2017

In direct contrast to the start of the season it seems like we have had more rain than sunshine in the past few days. We were unable to open nets until 9:30 this morning due to rain. Once the nets were open we were treated to two Varied Thrush and a first for the season – a Steller’s Jay. Sachi enjoys the enthusiasm and excitement that Anna and I get from seeing these birds that he has seen many times. I am sure we would also enjoy his excitement at seeing Blue Jays in Ontario.

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The temperature has risen from our previous week of freezing conditions in the morning  but the trees sense fall is here and have begun turning glorious colours. The sparse aspen trees in the mountains are splashes of gold among the deep green pine and fir. Around the station the Gooseberry leaves are turning red producing another beautiful contrast.

Happy Birding!

-Kyle

Total Banded 1020
Species Banded 57
Total Recapped 132
Species Recapped 17
Species Recorded 147

 

 

 

September 24th, 2017

We had the honour of having Candice at the station. In her presence, we banded a second Varied Thrush and saw two Ruffed Grouse fall through the net and make holes, one at least the size of a medium pizza (Sachi’s words). It was a slow day today, with ten birds banded and five recaps. Other than the Varied Thrush, the MacGillivray’s Warbler was a nice bird in the net after a hiatus of weeks.

The TLBO Potluck event was held yesterday evening. We went “owling”, but did not get any owl when everyone was there, unfortunately. The round after most left, there was one owl–and a total of four owls for the night. Thanks to everyone for coming, and to Hana and Candice for organizing. We thought the event was fun and educational, and I hope those who attended think so too. Come again, weather permitting; our last owl day should be the 27th!

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Kyle’s presentation at the potluck.

Until later!

Anna

Total Banded 1029
Species Banded 53
Total Recapped 132
Species Recapped 15
Species Recorded 130

Species Banded Recapped
Lincoln’s Sparrow 185 25
Song Sparrow 135 31
Common Yellowthroat 111 36
Swainson’s Thrush 90 12
Warbling Vireo 52 1
Savannah Sparrow 43 1
Northern Saw-whet Owl 43 0
Orange-crowned Warbler 39 0
Yellow Warbler 35 2
White-crowned Sparrow 33 2
Wilson’s Warbler 32 0
American Redstart 28 2
Oregon Junco 23 0
Northern Waterthrush 21 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 20 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 14 0
Black-capped Chickadee 13 9
Yellow-rumped Warbler 11 0
Chipping Sparrow 10 0
Cedar Waxwing 9 5
Hermit Thrush 9 0
Dusky Flycatcher 8 0
Vesper Sparrow 5 0
Townsend’s Warbler 5 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4 0
Northern Harrier 4 0
Fox Sparrow 4 0
Willow Flycatcher 3 1
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Cassin’s Vireo 3 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3 0
Spotted Towhee 3 0
Brown Creeper 3 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 2 0
American Robin 2 0
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 0
Downy Woodpecker 2 0
Varied Thrush 2 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Marsh Wren 1 0
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1 0
Pacific Wren 1 0
Western Tanager 1 0
Least Flycatcher 1 0
Red-winged Blackbird 1 0
Indigo Bunting 1 0
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 1 0
Western Wood-pewee 1 0
Purple Finch 1 0
Merlin 1 0
Evening Grosbeak 1 0
Red-naped Sapsucker 0 1

Howdy! Yestereve, Candace arrived home after a two month absence. She is the resident of the Lincoln Creek Ranch who has been so generous this season by allowing all of the volunteers to stay in her beautiful house during the course of the banding season. On behalf of all of the volunteers, thank you!

Later on last night, Kyle and I were joined by Sandra and her two children Simon and Julia for our nightly Owl monitoring. Unfortunately the last time that they had joined us no Saw-whets were caught. We were all hoping that the Saw-whet army would be out in force (as it had been in previous nights) so as to not disappoint our patient guests as well as our selves. It was a balmy (~11°C) and overcast night which was not a good start for Saw-whets who prefer cold and clear. Alas even though the five of us patiently waited for a Saw-whet to grace us with its presence in our nets none obliged. The closest we got was a flying squirrel that glided past as we were waiting for our next net check. We all had to go home without a single bird caught in the nets. Sorry Sandra, Simon and especially Julia, we hope that the third time will be the charm for your first Northern Saw-whet Owl experience.

Today was a slow day for banding as we only banded 18 birds and had 3 recaptures. There were many of the usual suspects like Lincoln’s, Song and Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrows. The notable’s were a Fox Sparrow (3rd of the season), a Northern Harrier (4th of the season) and a VARIED THRUSH (1st of the season)!!!!! We have banded 4 Northern Harriers (2 male and 2 female) this season. They are big birds whose heads swivel when in hand like an owls in order to track your hands in an attempt get a pound of flesh in exchange for their being banded. The Varied Thrush was the major highlight for all of us as they have been heard given observers a precious few glances of this secretive bird over the course of the season. Needless to say they are even more stunning in hand than they are perched up high in the trees. This handsome fellow stole the show from the rather impressive Northern Harrier. Just look at that plumage!

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The Varied Thrush, what more needs to be said? – Photo credit Kyle

The highlights as far as species observed are concerned were a MacGillivary’s Warbler, two Golden-crowned Sparrows, a flyover by a Clark’s Nutcracker (the bird depicted on the logo of the station) and two Chestnut-backed Chickadees. These last two are perhaps the self same ones that have visited us on three separate occasions since I arrived in mid September. Today they were very generous giving Anna and I both good views of their plumage while voicing their distinctive squeaky chickadee call.

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Our hatch year female Northern Harrier, banded by Anna and briefly held by yours truly – photo credit Kyle

As I write all of us at the Lincoln Creek Ranch are preparing food for a community potluck that we are hosting tonight. Kyle is going to give a presentation on the range of species banded and observed at TLBO this season with reference to past years in order to get a perspective on migration numbers. Afterwards all of us at the Lincoln Creek Ranch and hopefully most of our guests with come along for a night of owing. Fingers crossed that the Saw-whet army is out in full force tonight!

Cheers,

-Sachi

Total Banded 1019
Species Banded 53
Total Recapped 127
Species Recapped 15
Species Recorded 130

Species Banded Recapped
Lincoln’s Sparrow 183 22
Song Sparrow 134 30
Common Yellowthroat 111 36
Swainson’s Thrush 90 12
Warbling Vireo 52 1
Northern Saw-whet Owl 43 0
Savannah Sparrow 42 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 39 0
Yellow Warbler 35 2
Wilson’s Warbler 32 0
White-crowned Sparrow 31 1
American Redstart 28 2
Oregon Junco 23 0
Northern Waterthrush 21 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 19 3
Black-capped Chickadee 13 9
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 13 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 11 0
Chipping Sparrow 10 0
Cedar Waxwing 9 5
Hermit Thrush 9 0
Dusky Flycatcher 8 0
Vesper Sparrow 5 0
Townsend’s Warbler 5 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4 0
Northern Harrier 4 0
Willow Flycatcher 3 1
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Cassin’s Vireo 3 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3 0
Spotted Towhee 3 0
Brown Creeper 3 0
Fox Sparrow 3 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 2 0
American Robin 2 0
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 0
Downy Woodpecker 2 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Marsh Wren 1 0
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1 0
Pacific Wren 1 0
Western Tanager 1 0
Least Flycatcher 1 0
Red-winged Blackbird 1 0
Indigo Bunting 1 0
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 1 0
Western Wood-pewee 1 0
Purple Finch 1 0
Merlin 1 0
Evening Grosbeak 1 0
Varied Thrush 1 0
Red-naped Sapsucker 0 1