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Archive for August, 2017

August 20th, 2017

This morning an unexpected and much needed rain storm delayed our opening of nets until 8:40am. The rain lasted for at least four hours and is a welcomed occurrence given the extreme wildfire hazard this summer.

Two Pileated Woodpeckers were observed today and this was the first time Constanza had seen these large woodpeckers – lifers are always exciting! We banded our second Pacific-slope Flycatcher of the season, one of 12 birds banded today.

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Tiny but fierce! Black-capped Chickadees like this one may appear small but have a strong personality and can deliver some aggressive pecks.

Despite fresh bear scat, cougar tracks and unknown canine tracks around the station my trail camera has only caught Mule Deer… Until now! Late last night we had a visitor meandering along our path near net 15.

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Black Bear heading out for a midnight snack

As always, I am looking forward to tomorrows surprises.

-Kyle

Total Banded 256
Species Banded 25
Total Recapped 38
Species Recapped 8
Species Recorded 89

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 43 6
Common Yellowthroat 27 13
Song Sparrow 25 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 23 4
Yellow Warbler 21 1
American Redstart 20 2
Northern Waterthrush 18 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 13 1
Chipping Sparrow 10 0
Savannah Sparrow 9 0
Wilson’s Warbler 9 0
Dusky Flycatcher 6 0
Warbling Vireo 6 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 5
Black-capped Chickadee 3 1
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0
American Robin 1 0
Orange-crowned Warbler 1 0

 

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August 19th, 2017

Today we woke up and found out that Tatla Lake, a town north of us, was under an evacuation order. The smoke had now come back to the valley and the beautiful mountains were difficult to see through the smoke.

When we arrived at the station and we heard a bear in the bushes very close to us. We made some noise and he/she left. The bear was in our favourite spot to eat “bear”ries. Fortunately we arrived in time and he/she didn’t eat all of our snack source.

Despite the fires, today we had more birds banded than the last few days. There were 18 birds banded and four recaptures. Some new birds of the season were detected today;  A Virginia Rail was heard on census and our first Eastern Kingbird was observed. Later in the morning we heard an owl vocalization which was a Barred Owl! It was amazing to hear it during the day. Kyle told me that it’s vocalization sounds like “Who cooks for you?”. In South America we have a closely related owl located in Chile and Argentina. We call it “Concón” or Rufous-Legged Owl (Strix rufipes).

 

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Concón (Strix rufipes) in Pucón, Chile. By Fernando Novoa

Gratefully, we are still isolated from the fires. We’ll continue to be amazed by the birds of this beautiful place.

-Constanza

Total Banded 244
Species Banded 25
Total Recapped 37
Species Recapped 8
Species Recorded 87

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 39 6
Song Sparrow 25 3
Common Yellowthroat 24 12
Lincoln’s Sparrow 21 4
Yellow Warbler 21 1
American Redstart 20 2
Northern Waterthrush 18 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 12 1
Chipping Sparrow 10 0
Savannah Sparrow 9 0
Wilson’s Warbler 9 0
Dusky Flycatcher 6 0
Warbling Vireo 6 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 5
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0
American Robin 1 0
Orange-crowned Warbler 1 0

 

 

 

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Soon after opening the nets, Kyle told us about the biggest (fresh) bear poop he had ever seen. It’s a must see then. Ruler and camera in hand, I went to look for it.

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30 cm ruler beside big bear poop.

Today was an average day for birds this season. Regular visitors that we don’t get in the nets include Mallards, Common Loons, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, American Crows (a regular, but not seen today), Common Ravens, and Red-winged Blackbirds, among a few others.

After monitoring, I went to play with Jaya.  I miss the family dog back home, and to be able to spend time with a joyful dog is great! I’ll miss Jaya, too.

Anna.

Total Banded 226
Species Banded 25
Total Recapped 33
Species Recapped 7
Species Recorded 84

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 34 6
Common Yellowthroat 22 11
Song Sparrow 22 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 21 3
American Redstart 20 2
Yellow Warbler 19 0
Northern Waterthrush 16 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 11 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 8 0
Wilson’s Warbler 8 0
Dusky Flycatcher 6 0
Warbling Vireo 6 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 5
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0
American Robin 1 0
Orange-crowned Warbler 1 0

 

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August 17th, 2017

Another exciting day at Tatlayoko Lake Bird Observatory! We had a relatively slow banding day with 10 birds of 7 species banded but we had our highest overall count with 53 species observed including a few firsts of the season. Today was the first day we banded an Orange-crowned Warbler. We had seen a few at the beginning of the season but they seemed to have disappeared until an after hatch year female bird showed up in our nets.

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A very faint, possible cougar track found along the census route this morning. In the coarse sand it was hard to tell but the track does not appear to show any claw marks and is quite rounded suggesting a cougar.

The observations started well with a season high of 31 species on census including a Calliope Hummingbird. These tiny birds often buzz by like an insect allowing only fleeting views but this individual was quite cooperative and landed a few meters from me at eye level to ensure I was able to see its beautiful plumage and separate it from the more common Rufous Hummingbirds in the area. Since it seemed to be a particularly “birdy” morning I took my time on the walk back to the banding lab and was rewarded with many species that had not been observed on census including a singing Lazuli Bunting, a Purple Finch, Black Swifts, and the highlight – a Nashville Warbler that was just as obliging to show its plumage as the hummingbird had been. Nashville Warblers are a very common bird back home in Ontario but are rarely found at this station, making it an exciting record.

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The Niuts reflecting off the lagoon during an exceptionally calm morning. Can you tell this photo has been flipped upside down?

The birding excitement continued later in the morning as I took a walk down to a wetland at the edge of our count zone. There I found a muskrat lazily foraging in the water, Yellow Warblers singing and a Belted Kingfisher perched proudly upon a snag overlooking the peaceful scene. The peace did not last long as a Sharp-shinned Hawk came blazing around a corner and began harassing the Kingfisher. The Hawk appeared to be a particularly small individual and the Kingfisher stood its ground as the hawk continued swooping. The Sharpie was too distracted to notice another raptor, a Merlin, had come around the same corner and began dive bombing the instigating hawk. In the end the Sharpie appeared too threatened (or annoyed) by the Merlin and flew off first. This left just the Kingfisher and Falcon. The two eyed each other up from either side of the oxbow for a minute or so before the Kingfisher finally flew off (he must have blinked first).

Each day at Tatlayoko has provided some very interesting and exciting observations and as always I am excited to see what tomorrow has to offer!

-Kyle

Total Banded 215
Species Banded 25
Total Recapped 32
Species Recapped 7
Species Recorded 84

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 33 6
Common Yellowthroat 22 11
Song Sparrow 22 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 20 3
American Redstart 19 2
Yellow Warbler 18 0
Northern Waterthrush 14 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 11 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 8 0
Wilson’s Warbler 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 4
Dusky Flycatcher 5 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0
American Robin 1 0
Orange-crowned Warbler 1 0

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All mornings this week range around 2-3°C (according to the forecast) except for today, which was at least 5°C warmer. The weather in itself was something to look forward to, in part because birding is all about fingers (and eyes). Aside from that, banding a Savannah Sparrow was nice after days of Song Sparrows and Lincoln’s Sparrows.

The first after-hatch-year male MacGillivray’s Warbler of the season showed up. Some black is starting to appear on the breast (see picture below), characteristic of males.

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Yet another slow day for banding, but the number of species and individuals observed–being rather steady, or even increasing–tells a somewhat different story. Why? You’re probably right, at least partially.

Something I find interesting is that while Canada Geese are incredibly common back home in Ottawa, they are very scarce here. The birds around are sending me on a wild-goose chase, as far as banding’s concerned!

Until later.

Anna.

Total Banded 205
Species Banded 23
Total Recapped 27
Species Recapped 7
Species Recorded 82

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 30 5
Common Yellowthroat 21 9
Song Sparrow 21 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 20 3
Yellow Warbler 18 0
American Redstart 17 2
Northern Waterthrush 14 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 10 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 8 0
Wilson’s Warbler 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Dusky Flycatcher 5 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0

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The “summer” in this valley of Canada is very special. 2°C in the morning, my fingers were frozen. Fortunately, I brought enough clothes for this special weather.

This day has been slower in the number of species banded than other days, maybe because of the fires. I really don’t know. However, we have seen many species flying around. Today, we saw four Great Blue Herons flying above the field. Apparently, it’s not common to see them flying in a group. So I’m lucky to have seen them together. We also saw a dozen Warbling Vireos; we had not seen so many together since the beginning of the season.

I finally saw the ducks that I have been hearing for three days. There were at least 15 Mallards and they were in a wetland very close to the nets. In the same place, there was a shorebird, the Spotted Sandpiper. He/she was very difficult to see, because he/she was really camouflaged. Andrew helped me see the bird. It looked very familiar, so I realised that it was a Playero Manchado (Actitis macularius). He/she breeds in spring and summer in North America, and then migrates to South America to avoid the winter. Among other places, they go to my lands, the North of Chile. Maybe we are doing a similar route, the Spotted Sandpiper and me—except I’m not breeding.

Today, Andrew and Gail left the ranch to go back to their home, so we shared a last dinner in the ranch. They cooked for us with the vegetables that Sally (our neighbor) gave us. Gail cooked a delicious apple crumble. We really enjoyed the time, the stories, and the teaching that they gave us. We are already missing them. I hope to meet them again in another adventure.

– Constanza.

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Last dinner. 

Total Banded 197
Species Banded 23
Total Recapped 23
Species Recapped 7
Species Recorded 82

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 29 4
Song Sparrow 20 2
Common Yellowthroat 19 6
Lincoln’s Sparrow 19 3
American Redstart 17 2
Yellow Warbler 17 0
Northern Waterthrush 14 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 9 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Wilson’s Warbler 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Dusky Flycatcher 5 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Red-eyed Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0

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This is the 11th year my wife and I have volunteered at Tatlayoko Lake Bird Observatory (TLBO). When it did not operate last year, we felt sad. This year, in spite of the fires, we were able to get in to the station. When we might get out is still in doubt.

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Mule Deer herd. Photo by Gail Harcombe

Every morning, we get up early to help with the banding operations. Often at the gate to greet us are a group of mule deer. The Tatlayoko Lake Ranch, owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the recently donated adjacent Joerg Fischer Conservation Area, comprises the area where the banding and bird observation occurs.

 

If you look at the logo for TLBO, you will notice two components: the Clark’s Nutcracker, which is seen and heard almost daily flying between the mountains that border TLBO and a Chilcotin specialty, the Russell Fence. Although there seems to be no agreement on who Russell was, this style of fence has been installed on many Chilcotin ranches. The fence is built from local lodgepole pine logs, often from forests killed by forest fire. Although dirty to handle, the wood is hardened and will last longer. NCC has continued on with this traditional style, which many consider to be a piece of art. It is a fence designed for any landscape, since no hole-digging is required. Tripods are used instead of fence posts. The top log sits on the tripod, and the lower rails are hung with wire. A stake log prevents the whole fence from tipping. It is wildlife friendly; small animals go under and larger ones jump over, and there is no barbed wire to injure.

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 Russell fence. Photo by Gail Harcombe

There were brief showers last evening; the skies cleared and we woke up to frost and ice on wet surfaces. The birds must of also felt cold, since few were to be caught in the mist nets. A highlight bird for Kyle was a Spotted Towhee, which h extracted and banded for the first time. He was used to the Eastern Towhee in Ontario. In spite of the cold, we enjoyed a flyover of 9 Black Swift, 5 Violet-green Swallow, and a lone Bank Swallow all not seen that often in the valley.

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Yellow Pine Chipmunk eating soopalalie berries. Photo by Gail Harcombe

Gail and I hope that this year will lead to many following ones. We see the banding operation and its related data collection a key research tool for monitoring bird populations in North America.

Total Banded 188
Species Banded 23
Total Recapped 20
Species Recapped 7
Species Recorded 79

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 28 4
Common Yellowthroat 19 5
Song Sparrow 19 2
American Redstart 17 1
Yellow Warbler 16 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 15 2
Northern Waterthrush 13 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 9 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Wilson’s Warbler 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Dusky Flycatcher 5 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0
Spotted Towhee 1 0

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August 13th, 2017

“Finally some rain!” I thought to myself when I woke up at 4am this morning to the sound of raindrops on the roof and window. The excitement was short-lived as the cloud passed within seconds. The British Columbia fire situation has intensified over the past few days and many communities near Tatlayoko are under evacuation order and we are in desperate need of some rain. The banding station and surrounding area are thankfully kept relatively moist by the dense grass cover and the nearby Homathko River. The nearly constant south winds are keeping the fires north of us from entering into the valley as well.

The south winds have now completely cleared the smoke, finally revealing the mountains that surround us and I find it hard not to stop and stare every few minutes in amazement at the natural beauty of this valley. The clear skies have also allowed for some excellent raptor viewing (and capturing, but more on that later). Census started with some excitement as we watched a Merlin harassing a Northern Harrier in the field in front of the banding lab.

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Merlin perched prior to harassing the much larger Northern Harrier. Thanks to Gail Harcombe for all of the photos.

The raptor excitement continued after census when a female Cooper’s Hawk was caught in net 9. Large raptors often bounce out of the mist nets designed for small songbirds but Andrew did an excellent job of keeping the hawk “cooped” up in the net until it was extracted. Handling this large raptor proved to be a little “hawk”ward and I received a claw to my hand when we tried to weigh the bird, which was too heavy for our scale! After some quick first aid for me we took a few quick photos and released her with her new jewellery.

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I think you can tell how excited I was to be able to see this amazing creature up close! Thanks to Gail Harcombe for all the photos.

Apart from the raptor excitement today we had some good passerine activity as well with our first Oregon Junco and our second Vesper Sparrow banded as well as a return visit from a beautiful after hatch year male American Redstart who’s plumage is always quite striking.

One more exciting observation from today was a Mountain Goat near the banding station in the field!! These amazing rock climbers are rarely found in low elevations but Anna, Gail and Andrew were able to witness this rarity before it ran off toward the river and likely toward its home back on the mountains.

Looking forward to what tomorrow may have in store for us!

-Kyle

 

Total Banded 180
Species Banded 22
Total Recapped 18
Species Recapped 6
Species Recorded 78

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 26 3
Song Sparrow 19 2
Common Yellowthroat 17 5
American Redstart 17 1
Yellow Warbler 16 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 2
Northern Waterthrush 13 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 9 1
Chipping Sparrow 9 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Wilson’s Warbler 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Dusky Flycatcher 4 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Vesper Sparrow 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0
Cooper’s Hawk 1 0
Oregon Junco 1 0

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The smoke has cleared substantially today, and the view is most stunning. We can see the clouds moving and the wrinkles of the mountains.  Every cloud has a silver lining.

A guest volunteer, Hana Kamea, enthusiastically joined us and witnessed some of the ongoing observed and banded birds, including Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Swainson’s Thrush, and Yellow Warbler.

We had a first-of-the-season for TLBO in the net, a Yellow-rumped Warbler (subspecies: Audubon)–also my first Audubon, as we only get Myrtles in Ontario. A “tournament” (i.e., flock) of five Chipping Sparrows were in net “14” during one of the net rounds, a relatively productive net so far. 14 Clark’s Nutcrackers and eight Ring-billed Gulls were observed, and these birds have been scarce until today.

Right before we wrapped things up, this bird showed up:

Do you recognize the species? What’s going on with this bird?

After work, we joined Hana for a delicious lunch. We also got to meet her friendly dog Jaya. We headed home, and then Constanza and Kyle went for a swim at Tatlayoko Lake while I took a nap.

 

After 12 dry and sunny days, I think tomorrow’s rain will be rather refreshing.

Anna.

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 24 3
Song Sparrow 19 2
Common Yellowthroat 15 3
American Redstart 15 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 2
Yellow Warbler 13 0
Northern Waterthrush 12 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 9 1
Chipping Sparrow 8 0
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 2
Wilson’s Warbler 5 0
Dusky Flycatcher 4 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Willow Flycatcher 1 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Vesper Sparrow 1 0
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1 0

Total Banded 164
Species Banded 20
Total Recapped 15
Species Recapped 5
Species Recorded 75

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August 11th, 2017

Hi, I’m Constanza, from Chile. Today was my second day as a volunteer at TLBO.  The sky looked more blue and clear than yesterday, and I think more than the whole week.

I saw my first couple of Sandhill Cranes. I was excited. There is no crane in my country. We saw the first Northern Harrier of the season flying gracefully in the field. We had also seen a Red-naped Sapsucker, the first for the season too.

Today, less birds were in the net than yesterday, but it was an opportunity to continue my training as a volunteer field assistant. Now I can recognize different patterns of feathers and moulting, identify some birds, and tell which are hatch year, adult, male or female. One of the species that I started learning about is Wilson’s Warbler, a very interesting species.

Another interesting thing to me, that happened today, was that there was a black bear on the other side of the river. I couldn’t see him/her, but Andrew and Gail told us about the bear. He/she was enjoying the berries of the woods (I enjoy them too).

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I still have a lot to learn, but I’m accompanied by people who know a lot. I hope to continue learning. I’m very happy to be at TLBO.

-Constanza

Species Banded Recapped
Swainson’s Thrush 23 3
Song Sparrow 19 2
Common Yellowthroat 14 1
American Redstart 14 0
Lincoln’s Sparrow 13 2
Northern Waterthrush 12 1
Yellow Warbler 11 0
MacGillivray’s Warbler 7 1
Savannah Sparrow 7 0
Cedar Waxwing 5 1
Wilson’s Warbler 4 0
Chipping Sparrow 3 0
Dusky Flycatcher 3 0
Warbling Vireo 3 0
Black-capped Chickadee 2 0
Red-eyed Vireo 2 0
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1 0
Lazuli Bunting 1 0
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 0
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 0
Townsend’s Warbler 1 0
Vesper Sparrow 1 0
Willow Flycatcher 0 1

Total Banded 148
Species Banded 18
Total Recapped 12
Species Recapped 5
Species Recorded 72

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