Our final week of banding is in the books and the Fall 2019 Banding Season has come to an end! We ended the week with 65 new birds banded and 45 recaptures processed. This brings our final fall totals up to 979 new birds banded and 764 recaptures processed. Overall 1,743 birds passed through the lab of 68 species including some uncommon captures such as Rusty Blackbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, and a Cooper’s Hawk. Unfortunately, we were unable to hit the milestone of 1,000 new birds banded, it was not in the cards for us this season. On average during the fall around 1,500 to 2,000 new birds are usually banded. It had been a struggle this fall to even break 900 new birds banded. While we can only speculate, this low number was likely due to a combination of intense storms closing our nets for days, a lack of northwest winds to push the birds to the coast, and very low numbers of some of the species that make up the majority of fall captures — notably, White-throated Sparrows, Blackpoll Warblers, Myrtle Warblers and Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were very low this season. The Gray Catbird held the time honored position of our most numerous capture with 339 new GRCAs banded this fall.
Monday, we banded 11 new Hermit Thrushes and 11 new White-throated Sparrows during the day. We also had time to watch the transit of Mercury across the Sun through a clever set up by Sarah, involving the scope pointed at the sun and eye piece pointed at a piece of paper. While on a walk around the “Big Bog,” a Virginia Rail was foraging mere inches from the path. As we walked by, it froze, stock still, until Nick pointed it out. After an amazing moment of mutual observation, the rail then flew just a short way into the grasses. Usually incredibly secretive and cryptic, it’s been amazing to see this species twice over the last few weeks. While we don’t know for sure, it may even be the same bird on both occasions, taking advantage of the new habitat offered by the water management practices recently put in place.