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Archive for August, 2013

The wind settled down last night allowing us to open up first thing this morning. Birds came through steadily, including our first Oregon Junco of the season and our second Hermit Thrush of the season. More juncos, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a mix of sparrows were seen around the station and on census forecasting a switch in the species we’ll be seeing.

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The first Oregon Junco of the season.

The arrival of our 1000th  bird to be banded – an Alder Flycatcher – was a good way to end August. While our standard banding totals are no longer record-breaking, we’re still on track for an above average year. Our non-standard nets have been significantly boosting our numbers, with the new net averaging more birds an hour than any other net. Including these non-standard birds, this is the first time TLBO’s broke 1000 by the end of August! While bird abundance has been high, our total species count around the station is at an all time low of 105. Hopefully some of the species are just a little late arriving this year and we’ll still end on par.

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Number of standard birds banded per day each year. 2013 is the bold red line.

Standard Non-standard Total
Birds Banded 870 142 1012
Birds Recaptured 144 15 159
Species banded 41

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 7
Common Yellowthroat 5
Yellow Warbler 4
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2 2
Song Sparrow 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Alder Flycatcher 1
Willow Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Oregon Junco 1
American Redstart 1
Northern Waterthrush 1

Birds banded 30
Species banded 15
Birds recaptured 4
Species recaptured 3
Species on census 35
Species Total 52
SEASON TO DATE BANDED 1012

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Aug. 30: Peregrine

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Rainbow over the Niuts.

Our first day this season without any banding. We woke to high winds that persisted throughout the morning and are showing no sign of letting up. We all gathered at 8:15 (volunteers Michelle and Chris, plus Morgan and I) to do a group census. Despite the weather we managed to find a fair number of birds and had some good highlights to boot.

As we scanned the field at the start of the route we noted a Northern Harrier hunting low and an American Kestrel on its customary perch along the fence. While scanning, a big falcon zoomed in from behind us and took off after the Harrier. Peregrine! As we watched, the two took turns chasing each other back and forth across the field. Not to be left out, a Merlin joined the fray, dwarfed by the two larger birds of prey. A thrilling way to begin census!

As we carried on we eked out a few birds here and there, mostly in small flocks moving low through the bushes. There was a bit of visible migration still with a few Yellow-rumped Warblers overhead as well as two Barn Swallows and a Sharp-shinned Hawk fighting against the wind.

On the lake the waves were lashing the shore but a few birds were braving the rough waters. A pair of Red-necked Grebes and a Common Loon and…Phalaropes! Three Red-necked Phalaropes bobbing in and out of sight about 75m out. Morgan managed a couple record shots. Note the black cap and eye-patch that droops downwards at the back, as well as the longer, finer bill that separate it from the similar Red Phalarope.

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Red-necked Phalaropes can brave much rougher waters than we see here. They spend their winters on the open ocean, sometimes up to several hundred kilometres offshore!

When we got back to the lab we decided to set up the owl nets in preparation for this coming week when we will probably start trying to catch Northern Saw-whet Owls. With Chris’ help we put up 4 nets near where we set up last year. With the appropriate mesh size, these nets should hold the birds better and we hope that we will see an increase over last year’s 32 birds caught.

Birds banded 0
Species banded 0
Birds recaptured 0
Species recaptured 0
Species on census 30
Species Total 36
SEASON TO DATE BANDED 982

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Our busy week continued with another great day. The morning started off a bit slow but things picked up for Avery’s census. Three large mixed flocks resulted in lots of Warbling Vireos and warblers to tick off the list. Throughout the constant din of chirps he heard a Eurasian Collared-dove coo-ing. At the lagoon was the second new shorebird for the season we’ve had this week — a Western Sandpiper! This is only the second record for Western Sandpipers at TLBO, the first being a pair in 2011.

There were a few large flocks around the station today, the core of which were usually Warbling Vireos. It was a good day for flycatchers with 6 species in the area, including Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-pewee and a banded Least Flycatcher.

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An adult male Common Yellowthroat, one of an increasing number of adult warblers that have started to arrive at Tatlayoko Lake.

It will come as no surprise that nets were busy again. We had our 10th Western Tanager banded before census, during which we had a bit of slow period. We had two big rounds between 10:00 and 11:00, one of which had all four of us working to clear 28 birds in net 16. Particularly within the warblers it seems that there have been a higher ratio of adults lately, I found myself stopping to admire their beautiful bright plumage a few times throughout the course of the morning.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 36
Common Yellowthroat 7 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
MacGillivray’s Warbler 2
Willow Flycatcher 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1
American Redstart 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Western Tanager 1

Birds banded 57
Species banded 12
Birds recaptured 2
Species recaptured 2
Species on census 37
Species Total 53
SEASON TO DATE BANDED 982

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After strong south winds the past couple days it was a pleasant surprise to wake up this morning to perfect calm. Not surprisingly, when we got down to the station and started opening nets we could hear a fair bit of bird activity.

By 7:00 we had encountered a very large flock of mostly the ubiquitous Warbling Vireo in behind net MX. By 7:20 we had encountered this very large flock…in net MX. It took Morgan and me 15 minutes to clear the 31 birds out of the net and close it (for fear of catching the rest of the flock and being totally overwhelmed with birds to band). After a half hour of rapid fire banding we were back on track and Morgan could go on census.

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A net full of birds!

While we continued to catch birds at a reasonable rate Morgan was encountering birds everywhere she looked with Black-capped Chickadees constantly calling throughout the census and good numbers of eight species of warbler. The highlight of the day came right at the end of census as she encountered a group of four Red-necked Phalaropes just offshore near the mouth of the Homathko River. This represents just the third record of this species at TLBO!

Back at the station we caught and banded our first two Western Wood-pewees of the season. We also caught another presumed hybrid Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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One of two Western Wood-pewees caught today

Good numbers of raptors were present for the first time this season with 5 Sharp-shinned Hawks, a Northern Harrier, 2 Merlins and 6 American Kestrels seen. The day’s final highlight came near closing time when a group of 6 Vaux’s Swifts flew over low overhead. While this species is not uncommon in southern BC, they seem to be unusual in the valley and this is just the second record for the station. No doubt they are somewhat overlooked as well.

After all was said and done we ended the day with a season high 63 birds banded. Not a bad day at the office!

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 33 4
Wilson’s Warbler 6
Orange-crowned Warbler 4
Common Yellowthroat 3 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 2 1
Western Wood-pewee 2
Yellow Warbler 2
American Redstart 1 2
Swainson’s Thrush 1 1
Alder Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
American Robin 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Townsend’s Warbler 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 2

Birds banded 63
Species banded 18
Birds recaptured 11
Species recaptured 6
Species on census 39
Species Total 58
SEASON TO DATE BANDED 925

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August 27: Banding Tick

We started the morning with strong, warm south winds this morning. Luckily they treated us much better than they have previously. On starting round the birds remained fairly hidden from the wind but a small chorus of liquid “whip”s from Swainson’s Thrushes kept us hopeful.

Shortly after I left on a rather uneventful and windy census, Avery, Chris and Michelle were subject to the first mixed warbler/Warbling Vireo onslaught with 13 birds in net 16. The net rounds remained steady until we had another big wave around 10:00, including a new species for this season AND a new species for our Bander-in-Charge Avery: a Cassin’s Vireo!

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The first Cassin’s Vireo banded since 2010.

In the end we had another smashing day with 49 birds banded, including 2 Townsend’s Warblers, and our 9th Western Tanager. We also had 9 recaptures including an American Redstart and Black-capped Chickadee, both banded in 2012!

We had another new species for the season at the station today, Avery and Chris caught a fleeting look at a Marsh Wren. While waiting to close up the nets Michelle, Chris and I went to check the Oxbow in the river for ducks and we were rewarded with a female Wood Duck and two nearly full-grown ducklings. It’s nice to confirm that the pair we’ve been seeing bred in the valley!

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Banding Tick: A very happy Avery with his first ever banded Cassin’s Vireo.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 19 1
Yellow Warbler 8
Wilson’s Warbler 5
Orange-crowned Warbler 3 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Swainson’s Thrush 2
Townsend’s Warbler 2
MacGillivray’s Warbler 2
Black-capped Chickadee 1 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 2
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Cassin’s Vireo 1
Western Tanager 1
Song Sparrow 2
American Redstart 1

Birds banded 49
Species banded 13
Birds recaptured 9
Species recaptured 6
Species on census 20
Species Total 39
SEASON TO DATE BANDED 862

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With each passing day it seems fall is rapidly advancing. The composition of birds is shifting, with more of the temperate migrants (birds that winter north of the tropics) moving in and the number of neotropical migrants (birds that winter in the tropics) decreasing.

Neotropical migrants are characterized by mainly being insectivores or frugivores and their food supplies are most abundant in the warmer climates of the tropics. Some examples include warblers, vireos and thrushes. Temperate migrants are typically the seed eaters such as sparrows and finches, and their food stocks — such as grass seeds and conifer cones — remain available throughout the boreal winter. There are a few insect-eating temperate migrants that typically forage on prey that are non-flying, such as spiders and dormant larvae that they find in tree bark or dead leaf clusters, etc. Included in this group are the kinglets. There are two species of kinglets (genus Regulus) in North America and we were fortunate enough to catch both today.

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Both of the kinglets we caught were female, which lack the red central crown of the males.

Depending on the season, the Ruby-crowned Kinglets can be one of most numerous catches. They migrate further than the Golden-crowned Kinglets, who will even overwinter here in the Tatlayoko Valley. Quite remarkable for the smallest birds (after hummingbirds) in North America!

Among our other catches today was our first Vesper Sparrow of the season, which was our 38th species banded thus far. Common Yellowthroats have been making a little push the past couple days and we banded another 6 today.

Hunting along the north shore of the lake on census was our 100th bird recorded at TLBO this season, a large female Cooper’s Hawk. Also on census, volunteer Michelle and I got good looks at 3 Red Crossbills, including one juvenile. On the way back to the lab we saw two immature White-crowned Sparrows, another temperate migrant whose numbers will be increasing.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 14
Common Yellowthroat 6 2
Swainson’s Thrush 5
Yellow Warbler 3
MacGillivray’s Warbler 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Song Sparrow 1 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Cedar Waxwing 1
American Redstart 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1
Vesper Sparrow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1

Birds banded 40
Species banded 13
Birds recaptured 6
Species recaptured 5
Species on census 30
Species Total 44
SEASON TO DATE BANDED 813

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Aug 25: 53/53

A nice cool night brought in lots of birds this morning. It took a while for them to find our nets, but we knew it would happen eventually. And happen it did! Yet again both Avery and I found ourselves running around on a net round on what was to be our second busiest day of the season. We ended up finishing the day with as many birds banded as species seen: 53!

Warbling Vireos were yet again the cause of our frantic net round, with 19 banded. Orange-crowned Warblers also contributed significantly to the days catch. One new species found it’s way into our nets: 3 young Ruffed Grouse! Unfortunately game birds don’t receive bands so they were released at the net.

One of three Ruffed Grouse extracted from net 15.

One of 3 Ruffed Grouse extracted from net 15.

The station was birdy, especially first thing in the morning. We estimated 60 Warbling Vireos were in the census area, as wells as good warbler diversity and numbers (an increase in Orange-crowned Warblers was noticeable), increases in Lincoln’s Sparrows, and 5 species of flycatchers (included Olive-sided and Least Flycatchers).

Census was slow to begin but midway through I ran in to a decent mixed flock. Over all species diversity was good, though let down slightly by the lack of waterfowl out on the lagoon. Warbling Vireos and Black-capped Chickadees led the way in numbers. Notable sightings included 2 Olive-sided Flycatchers and the second sighting of our quiz bird from the 21st: Common Mergansers.

Species Band Recap
Warbling Vireo 19 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 8
Common Yellowthroat 5 1
Swainson’s Thrush 5
Wilson’s Warbler 4
MacGillivray’s Warbler 3
Yellow Warbler 2 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Song Sparrow 1 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1 1
Alder Flycatcher 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Northern Waterthrush 1

Birds banded 53
Species banded 13
Birds recaptured 5
Species recaptured 5
Species on census 34
Species Total 53
SEASON TO DATE BANDED 773

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