Monday July 23, 2012

Eight girls from 12-15 years old are taking a week-long version of the Bander Training Class.  The format is very similar to the adult class, with hands-on practice in the morning and discussions in the afternoons.  Since this week is traditionally a high point in the Yellow Warbler migration, the students should get plenty of practice handling birds as they will learn both net-picking and banding.  Discussions will cover topics like field marks and species ID, aging birds (including by molt), and the ethics of banding.  Since banding is a science-oriented activity, the girls will also be collaborating on a research project during the week.

We got off to a great start today, despite the heat and the lack of birds.  We started by practicing the grips most commonly used by banders, and then the students began net-picking.  Each student had the opportunity to pull two or three birds from the net, and – based on what we saw today – they will soon be handling birds like old pros.  After lunch we watched a gruesome slideshow on all the diseases and parasites of birds, and then we discussed nets and traps.  Based on that discussion, the students picked a spot to put a new net.  Emily and I think they are after Cedar Waxwings, because the proximity of honeysuckle featured prominently in their choice of a perfect location!

Overall today we banded 34 birds of 14 species, including a young Wood Thrush, a Mourning Dove, and a Swainson’s Thrush.  The thrush was quite a surprise, and we initially assumed it was a Veery.  When we looked closer, we noted that the coloration, breast spotting, buffy lores, and wing morphology all matched Swainson’s Thrush and excluded Veery.  When we looked on ebird, we discovered that no Swainson’s Thrush has ever been reported in the Rochester area in July, and only one has ever been reported in August.  Gray Catbird was the bird of the day, followed closely by Common Yellowthroat.   There were only three Yellow Warblers, leaving us all to wonder where they are!  Maybe tomorrow???
Andrea Patterson
Claire, Bethany, Brenna, Cici, Anna, Bella, Raelena and Sonya at the end of their first day of Banding Camp!Photo by Andrea Patterson

Claire, Bethany, Brenna, Cici, Anna, Bella, Raelena and Sonya at the end of their first day of Banding Camp!
Photo by Andrea Patterson