Mytles Galore

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Tuesday April 30, 2019:  97 birds of 15 species; 54 recaps.  New species:  Western Palm Warbler and Swamp Sparrow.  Bird of the Day was Yellow-rumped Warbler with 43 new bands.

Things are picking up!  Not only did we have our biggest day of the season so far, we’re finally seeing more warblers.  Research is picking up around the station as well.  Today, Heather Williams brought three students from SUNY Buffalo to collaborate on a measurement study.  We’re comparing manual measurements to those taken digitally using photographs and a computer program.  We got 50 datapoints today, and we’ll collect as many more as we can next Tuesday as well.  Heather is hoping to show that the digital method is as accurate, consistent and repeatable (or perhaps even moreso) than manual measurements, and because it’s initially quicker may provide some advantages in the field.

Golden-crowns Make a Comeback

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Monday April 29, 2019:  31 new birds of 11 species, 26 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day was Golden-crowned Kinglet with 11 new bands.

In a surprise move, Golden-crowned Kinglets outnumbered Ruby-crowned for the first time since April 17th.  It was all younger females, but we were a little surprised that we had so many making the trip so late.  The weather has probably slowed at least some birds, but they all seem fat and healthy so we hope they have some fair winds soon.

Interestingly, we also got four Yellow-rumped Warblers, our first since April 13th.  The “butterbutts”  are always some of our earliest warblers, along with Northern Waterthrush and Black-and-white Warblers.  We know there we’ll see dozens before season’s end, but the first few always make us “feast our eyes”.

Erin is BACK!!!

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Sunday April 28, 2019:  35 new birds of 8 species, 28 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day was Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 14 new bands.

Erin Karnatz is back in the house!  After taking time off to pursue a PhD in linguistics at SUNY Buffalo, Erin stepped back into the driver’s seat on Sunday as she filled in for Andrea who was away in Ohio.  Erin has been an important part of the station for more than 15 years, and we’re always excited when she is able to spare a morning away from her studies.

Weather played spoiler for most of the day, but we managed to get a few nets up for at least part of the morning.  Captures were typical for this time of year – kinglets and chickadees with a sparrow thrown in for good measure.


Closed for Rain, and Andrea goes to Ohio

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The banding station was closed on April 26th and 27th because of wind and rain.  This time of year is  always dicey and unpredictable . . . and shown (perhaps) by the weird juxtaposition of a Magnificent Frigatebird flying west along the lakeshore on the same day we got a skiff of snow.

The bad weather timed itself well, as Andrea had a meeting at Winous Marsh near Port Clinton, OH.  She is a member of the North American Banding Council (NABC), and the council held its annual meeting the last weekend in April.  The council is a non-profit with a mission of promoting sound and ethical banding principles and techniques.  Through a variety of educational materials, trainings, and certifications, NABC hopes to develop a pool of competent and ethical banders across the hemisphere.  BBBO’s own Betsy Brooks was a founding member of the Council, and several of her band-kids have taken up the challenge to become certified.  In fact, BBBO currently boasts six certified trainers, two certified banders, and two certified assistants!  We’re thrilled that BBBO continues to play a role in this important organization, and we hope that more of our volunteers will be certified in the years to come.


Pleasant – but Ordinary – Morning

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Thursday, April 25, 2019: 40 new birds of 11 species, 15 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day is Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 16 new bands.

The day started chilly, but the light southwest winds and clear skies made it a pleasant day to walk around the station.  There wasn’t a large variety of species (lots of kinglets and chickadees!), but two Sharp-shinned Hawks exercised our aging skills.  With passerines, we can typically only tell that a bird that a bird hatched this year, last year, or some year before that, but we can sometimes get one more year out of raptors.  (That is, we can tell if they hatched this year, last year, the year before that, or some year even before that one).  In the end, we made conservative decisions about their ages in accordance with our motto that Uncertainty is Better than Error, and then we snapped photos and sent them off to raptor experts to perhaps learn more about what feather patterns we were seeing.


Grey Skies and Chilly Wind

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Wednesday April 24, 2019: 20 new birds of 10 species; 21 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day was Brown Creeper with 5 new bands.

Today at BBBO, the skies were gray and the wind was brisk and chilly.  It was definitely a slow day! Bird highlights of the day included a handsome adult male Sharp-shinned Hawk and a second year male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. We are all looking forward to the arrival of more warblers very soon.

RCKI’s Rule

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Tuesday April 23, 2019:  68 birds of 9 species; 42 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day was Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 46 new bands.

We had a full crew ready and waiting to see what the day would bring, and it brought . . . kinglets.  That isn’t atypical for this time of year, but the sheer numbers of them can sometimes be overwhelming.  These tiny birds migrate through our area in large masses, and while we never get tired of seeing them, we do get a little bleary-eyed banding all of them.  Small birds, itsy bands with bitsy numbers, and tails that almost always look pointy (which confounds us when we try to age them).  Still, they give us some of the first bright pops of color in the spring, and their activity and constant motion through the bushes is always a promise of more to come.

Just an Ordinary Monday

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Monday April 22: 49 new birds of 12 species; 40 recaps.  No new species.  Bird of the day was Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 17 new bands.

It’s still early birds at the station this week!  We’re seeing lots of kinglets and creepers, and occasionally a marauding flock of chickadees will sweep through the station.  Many of the chickadees are new, perhaps signalling the tail end of an irruption as birds who had moved last winter are trying to settle into summer grounds.  A lovely Fox Sparrow was a special treat – their gorgeous russet and gray tones could look messy but instead somehow combine to make a very dapper and smart looking bird.

We had two visitors from near Montreal.  They had once lived in Rochester, but moved about 10 years ago.  They had visited the station often when they lived in the area – but always during warbler season.  They came specifically hoping to see kinglets, and we were happy to oblige!

Easter Morning at BBBO

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Sunday April 21: 35 new birds of 11 species; 25 recaps.  New species:  Black-and-white Warbler.  Bird of the day was Black-capped Chickadee with 7 new bands.

It was the Sunday crew’s first day back in the saddle, and rusty fingers and cobwebby minds quickly gave way to ease and confidence.  Our teen volunteer, Lydia, is doing quite well with her net extractions, and she is learning more and more about aging and sexing with each bird that comes along.  We’re thrilled she’ll be with us two days a week this season!

Lydia had quite a thrill banding her first Sharp-shinned Hawk.  We typically only catch male Sharpies, as they are the smallest of the raptors that frequent the woodlands around us.  Sunday’s male was even on the small end for his species, and while his wings and tail were longer and his mass was heavier than a catbird, his body was really not much larger.  We’ll continue to see Sharpies through the spring, but they’ll taper off as the season progresses.

Dodging Rain – But We Get It Done

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Saturday April 20: 29 new birds of 7 species; 8 recaps.  New species:  Blue-headed Vireo.  bird of the day was Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 13 new bands.

We only opened a portion of the nets today because the weather was always a little threatening.  The wind wasn’t terribly strong, but the morning was misty and there were two small squalls of rain that moved through during the course of the day.  We checked the nets more frequently than normal, and watched the weather constantly so that we would always be ready to close at any moment.

Between net runs and birds, we chatted about how the winter had been and about our upcoming travel plans, catching up after a long five months away from the station.

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