I Spoke Too Soon!

Comments Off on I Spoke Too Soon!

198 new bands of 24 species, 32 recaps.  New species:  Orange-crowned Warbler and Eastern Towhee.  White-throated Sparrow was bird of the day, with 68 new bands.  It was another iffy-weather morning at BBBO.  We checked the radar and opened the nets, then made our first net check.  There were birds in the bushes, birds in the field, birds on the paths . . . but very few birds in the nets.  On the second net check, I made it past 7 nets with only a bird or two to show for it.  It was puzzling!  The birds were out there, but they weren’t hitting the nets!  I had just said to myself that it was going to be an unfortunately slow day . . . and then I saw net 40.  Obviously, I had spoken too soon.  Net 40 was full, net 60 was full, net 70 was full – there were birds everywhere.

Luckily, the staff worked like a well-oiled machine . . . and the oil was supplied by our teen banders, who willingly stepped in to roll bags, hang clothespins, scribe, band, and even capture hippoboscid flies for a research project.  At the end of the morning, we were just shy of 200 birds.  A young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was a treat, and we all melted every time someone held up a junco.

Eastern Towhee

A young Towhee gives us a little attitude!


One of the last warblers to come through in the fall – an Orange-crowned Warbler.

Update:  I spoke too soon again.  Our Research Assistant opened the nets late this afternoon.  Today’s totals now stand at 221 new bands of 24 species, with 33 recaps.  Bird of the day is still White-throated Sparrow with 83 new bands.

Education Takes Center Stage at BBBO Today

Comments Off on Education Takes Center Stage at BBBO Today

107 new birds of 22 species; 45 recaps.  New species:  Western Palm Warbler.  We escaped the ravenous hoards of maurading starlings today, not a single siskin found its way into our nets, and the predicted chickadee irruption has yet to materialize.  While large flocks of birds are always an exciting challenge, we were delighted today to forgo the numbers in favor of variety – especially since we had a boathouse full of guests.

Dr. Sara Morris brought her Field Ecology class from Canisius College, and Dr. Dave Holtzman brought his Vertebrate Biology class from Geneseo to visit the station.  Both classes had the opportunity to observe net-picking and banding, and to learn about some of the research supported by BBBO.  Meanwhile, our teen banders continued to hone their skills both in the field and at the banding table.  At the lowest end of the age spectrum, three young visitors carried our birds, hung them up in the station, and released them once banded – all with the greatest of care.  Even the experienced adult banders learned new things.  Did you know that if Blackpolls burned gasoline instead of fat for fuel, they would get 720,000 miles to the gallon???  It’s a great day when everyone learns something at BBBO!

Jackson, Jake and Jason were wonderful helpers today!



Friday September 28, 2012. 90 new bands of 27 species; 42 recaps.  New species Pine Siskin.  Claire, one of our summer banding students, got to band the first Pine Siskin of the season.  The most numerous bird banded was White-throated Sparrow with 25 banded.  Sean and Noah (students of Dr. Greg Cunningham of St. John Fisher) continued their collection of cloacal swabs and feather pulls in connection with their study on AIV in birds.  Fortunately, the starlings left us alone today, but we noticed that almost all the edible berries in the field are gone after their visit yesterday!

Betsy Brooks



Thursday September 27, 2012.  230 new of 30 species; 56 recaps.  New species Eastern Phoebe.  At mid-morning, we banded our 3,000th bird of the fall, a Blackpoll Warbler.  Just around 1 PM, when the BTC students arrived, we were inundated with massive, swirling, noisy flocks of starlings.  Not only did they devour just about every berry remaining in the area, they got caught in at least 15 of our nets, giving the students a real challenge to remove them and band them.  We banded 50 of them, and let the remaining 30 or so go free.

How many net-pickers does it take to remove a dozen starlings from a net?
Photo by Gayle Lazoration

RIT BTC students removing starlings from the nets.  Photo by Gayle Lazoration

John Waud and BTC students trying to free the last starlings from the net.  Photo by Gayle Lazoration

The students definitely know how to age and sex starlings, as well as how to stay calm in a crisis!   We even took the 2012 BTC Class picture with the students and our staff holding a starling they had each just banded.

The Stellar Starling Fall 2012 RIT BTC ClassPhoto by Ryan Kayhart

The stellar starling fall 2012 RIT BTC class.  Photo by Ryan Kayhart

We also banded 51 White-throated Sparrows as well as 8 warbler species.  Nancy Bompczyk helped all day and Jason Mayberry from Canisius College joined us and collected a hypoboscid fly and hopes to return to collect more in the future.   Betsy Brooks



Wednesday September 26 2012.  147 new of 25 species; 60 recaps.  New species Tufted Titmouse.  We had another great day of banding with 50 White-throated Sparrows and 24 Blackpoll Warblers banded.  A pair of Tufted Titmice caused some excitement and we managed to band eight warbler species, including a handsome AHY male Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Adult Male Black-throated Blue WarblerPhoto by Ryan Kayhart

Adult Male Black-throated Blue Warbler
Photo by Ryan Kayhart

We have now set an all-time record for number of Swainson’s Thrush banded… 253 banded this fall and counting!  Betsy Brooks


Comments Off on ANOTHER 100+ BIRD DAY!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012.  106 new birds of 28 species; 37 recaps.  Today was a perfect day for the RIT Bander Training Class at BBBO.  It was a clear, cool morning with a steady flow of birds.  The banding class did very well at removing the birds from the nets and at banding.   We also processed 37 retrapped birds.  Swainson’s Thrush (22 new birds) and White-throated  Sparrow (17 new birds) were most common.  Some of the day’s highlights included Yellow-shafted Flicker, Philadelphia Vireo, Brown Creeper, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Purple Finch, and House Finch.

The BTC students walked out to Main Blind to learn about raptor banding.  Dan Niven had just caught a Red-tailed Hawk and after releasing it, we sat for awhile looking at gulls in the blue sky until a second gorgeous hatch-year Red-tailed Hawk came out of the sky right into the bow-trap.

Dan Niven Removing a Red-tailed Hawk from the Bow NetPhoto by Caroline Caceci

Dan Niven removing a Red-tailed Hawk from the bow net.  Photo by Caroline Caceci

Caroline got to release it, and just about then, we worried that the whole class would switch to raptor banding rather than passerine banding.  John Waud



Monday September 24, 2012.  151 new of 28 species; 23 recaps.  We had a pretty steady flow of birds today.  Birds of the day were White-throated Sparrow with 37 banded and Swainson’s Thrush with 24 banded.  We had our second Bicknell’s Thrush of the fall, and a nice variety of warblers (8 species).  We had a very feisty late female Rose-breasted Grosbeak along with a Mourning Dove (usually hard to catch in our nets).

We heard the first Pine Siskins of the fall overhead … and wondered if we could possibly have a repeat of last years big event when 311 siskins dropped into four nets all at the same time!    Betsy Brooks



Sunday September 23, 2012.  75 new bands of 20 species; 65 retraps.  New species Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Hermit Thrush.  Birds of the day were White-throated Sparrow (27), and 10 each of Swainson’s Thrush and Blackpoll Warbler.  We still had 8 species of warblers including Tennessee, Nashville, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Bay-breasted, American Redstart and Ovenbird.  The Hermit Thrush looked like it had left the nest no longer than 10 days ago!

HY Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - First of the FallPhoto by Ryan Kayhart

HY Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – first of the fall.  Photo by Ryan Kayhart

Students in  Dr. Heather Zimbler-DeLorenzo’s Vertebrate Biology  class and the Outdoor Club from Alfred University learned about the process of banding, and the research projects underway at the banding station this fall.

Alfred University Students Visit BBBOPhoto by Ryan Kayhart

Alfred University students visit BBBO.  Photo by Ryan Kayhart

Lyn worked on lowering the height of the vegetation behind net 7 after we closed nets for the day.  Rowan, Delaney and Betsy had a nice walk along the lakefront.    Betsy Brooks

Blackpoll-a-palooza Continues

Comments Off on Blackpoll-a-palooza Continues

36 new birds of 10 species; 34 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day was Blackpoll Warbler, with 20 new bands (and 27 recaps!).   It rained heavily for the first two hours after sunrise, but we were eventually able to open a handful of nets.  We kept a watchful eye on the radar all morning, but we only suffered a brief two-minute light rain at about hour 4.

It is interesting that the number of recaps this morning nearly matches the number of new birds – and we are starting to feel like we must have banded nearly every Blackpoll Warbler in the immediate area by now!  We are noticing however, that many of these usually slender birds are turning into little Butterball turkeys.  When we first band a Blackpoll Warbler that has freshly flown in from across the lake, it weighs around 11 grams.  If we recapture it just before it makes another jump south, it may weigh more than 20 grams.  Today, we had one that weighed in at 23.2 grams – more than twice its normal weight!  It is a difference you can see (and feel, when you have them in the hand):  in the picture below the bird on the left weighed in at 11.1 grams, while the bird on the right was 20.7.

The picture is a little misleading because the pudgy bird on the right is fluffing his back feathers, but notice the curve of the breast and belly, and how the belly hangs over the bander’s finger.

While Blackpolls accounted for more than half the new birds today, we did get a smattering of other beauties as well, including the second Winter Wren of the season, a gorgeous adult male Magnolia Warbler and this equally stunning Wilson’s Warbler.

Not the best pose, but the photo shows off his stunning black cap. Peter Pyle’s Guide tells us that in males, the cap can reach 17 mm long . . . but this bird didn’t read the book because his cap was even longer than that!



Saturday September 21, 2012. 150 new; 40 recaps.   Considering the previous night’s SW winds, I sure did not expect that we would band 150 new birds yesterday, plus process 40 recaps.  We had 83 Blackpoll Warblers, 21 White-throated Sparrows, and 12 Gray-cheeked Thrush.

There were small numbers of other warbler species, and three more Red-breasted Nuthatches. A very juvenile looking SWSP was fun to see.

We had no  new species. The radar showed showers moving from southwest and passing both east and west of BBBO, but we never got a drop, so maybe the birds were pushing in from both sides of us?  Alice, Mandy, Ann, and Ruth were great net pickers;  Lee, Mark and John were the patient scribes while Ryan, Virginia and I banded the birds.  I think Katie had her biggest day yet in the MARS unit.

Cindy Marino

Older Entries