Spring Banding Has Begun!

Our Spring banding season began with a rainy day, a foggy day and a gorgeous day each with corresponding results.  Twelve students from the Vertebrate Zoology class at Eastern College studied our birds and observed the banding process on Wed.

Not only are Rushton’s breeding birds returning from wintering grounds, but many neo-tropical migrants stop at Rushton to rest and feed before continuing north to breed. These transient little jewels with red, yellow, blue and orange feathers bring sighs from banders that rival those heard at fireworks…OOH, AHH.Worm Eating Warbler

A Worm-eating Warbler on the 19th was an early surprise.  This little warbler is prettier in the hand than as pictured in field guides.  Its breast really has a “pumpkin” hue which glows against the olive tones of the back and wings.  Other warblers caught for the first time were Blue-winged, Yellow Palm (always a golden stunner), Myrtle Warbler and Nashville.

A few Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows are still in the hedgerows, but they will quickly depart.  Only our Eastern Towhee, Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat, Field Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow have returned, but we know that Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager and other Rushton breeders will shortly be arriving and hopefully jumping into our nets.

The dawn chorus increases with each new avian arrival.  Eastern Bluebirds (one pair is nesting in the box between net #2 and #4) dominate the chorus and we were happy to finally put a band on one.  This male Bluebird was at least two years old judged by the color and lack of contrast in his flight feathers.  He had sustained a serious head injury which removed the skin and feathers of his crown leaving his skull exposed in a circular wound.  How did he get through the horrible winter of 2010 without 100% of his insulation intact?  We will be on the lookout for this male with his shiny band and a gray line where his crown feathers are missing.

We are proud that Lisa Kiziuk received her banding license in March and that two of our volunteers will take advanced training to perfect their banding skills.

When you visit, you’ll be wowed by the new banding shelter that is being erected by Cody Pitz as his Eagle Scout project.  It provides protection from the elements, a flat dry floor, storage bins and extra seating for visitors.  Supported with a generous grant from the Miller Family Foundation and a donation of skylights by Lou and Barbara Hahn we are eagerly awaiting its completion.

See you in the woods.