Thus far we’ve netted 98 birds of 20 species with seven additions to our fall list during this week. We also recaptured 17 of our own birds the majority of whom have gained weight since being banded. The “one which got away” was a female Cooper’s Hawk flailing in the net as Lou and I approached. The net’s mesh is too small for most raptors and she was able to back out before I could get close enough to grab her. It’s unusual but not rare to catch raptors in passerine nets during migration.
Two Connecticut Warblers were our best birds. Low fields are their preferred migratory habitat and Rushton has what they need. Northern Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue and Chestnut-sided were the other colorful new warblers. Eastern Towhee, American Goldfinch, and a lone Song Sparrow were also banded. Small flycatchers called empidonax are especially difficult to identify even in the hand. Many measurements are required to make an accurate ID. Hearing flycathchers sing allows a certain ID, but, they don’t sing in Fall. So we were pleased to net two Acadian Flycatchers, a common stream side nester in the Delaware Valley.
A Great Horned Owl and three Screech Owls have been calling as we set our nets. The Screech Owls were so safely hidden in the grape vines behind thebanding table that they continued to call after dawn. Vines are a favorite cover for all birds, but especially young owls, and this was surely a family contacting one another prior to the day’s rest. “First light” is around 6:00. Nets are up and that’s when we turn off our head lamps and use the pre-dawn light to set up the bandingtable and most importantly the guest chairs, sadly empty! until you come to visit. Hint, Hint.
See you in the woods.