Saturday April 17, 2021. 119 birds of 4 species; 33 recaps. New species: American Robin and Song Sparrow. We have banded a total of 4 species this spring, none of which are warblers. Bird of the day was Black-capped Chickadee with 106 new bands, followed by Ruby-crowned Kinglet with 10.

Like a rubber band that stretches and then snaps back, so to are chickadee movements! Last fall, thousands of these adorable black and white birds irrupted across our area, many of them moving east and west along the south shore of the lake. Now, they are on their way back from whence they came . . . and while we love them, they are a handful! Weighing only 11-12 grams (less than half an ounce), they have big bold personalities full of fiestiness and sass.

Black-capped Chickadees move in small flocks, and they seem to have a fondness for our hedgerow, which parallels the lakeshore. We can see them flitting through the bushes and trees – sometimes just skimming the top of the net, and sometimes dipping just a bit too low. Once one is caught, he chatters to his flock who come to investigate, and almost inevitably some of them will be just a little too brave and will end up joining their buddy in the net. Luckily for us, chickadees are easy to age in the hand, and processing them is very quick. Once released, they continue their march to the west, and are soon out of reach of our net lanes just in time for the next flock to wander by.

This year’s irruption brought a special surprise . . . a chickadee with an unfamiliar band number. We reported it to the Bird Banding Lab, and were instantly gratified to learn that he had been banded on November 11, 2020 near St. Williams, ON.

Thanks much to the Saturday crew. We were missing a few folks today, but usual suspects Chita and Marilyn held down the nets while Maggie did most of the banding. New volunteer Kurt started scribing and did an awesome job on his first day, and returning volunteer Nathan started training as a netpicker. He doesn’t have it easy because he is learning on chickadees, but if you can extract a chickadee you can do almost anything! With a handful of successful extractions under his belt, he’s well on his way.

Nathan extracts a Black-capped Chickadee

— Andrea Patterson