It is now November; the month of grey skies, rain and cold, and woods that feel empty. Sometimes, though, the sun shines through golden tamaracks, Pine Grosbeaks call softly, and – at that moment – the world seems perfect.
The Fall migration season this year was marked by a lot of windstorms and quite significant amounts of rain. We lost multiple (and more than is typical) days of banding to unsuitable weather. However, we still managed to band 1403 birds of 67 species. We also observed a total of 141 species this Fall, including the first ever Black Vulture observed at Cabot Head. We were also delighted to band the second ever Carolina Wren, a young bird, which kept us entertained with its loud and typical call.
But we don’t only focus on rare species here: monitoring is all-encompassing. Red-breasted Nuthatches were the star of the Fall in some ways: we witnessed a small invasion, with many nuthatches seen and banded. Catching a record number of them, we were able to determine that most of them were adults, which perhaps suggests that breeding success this summer was low. Apparently, the seed crop of black spruce in the boreal forest was very poor this summer, which is a major source of food for this species. So, not only very few young were produced, but it seems that even hardy adults had to leave and head south for the winter. You may have many nuthatch visitors to your bird feeder during the cold months, taking advantage of a readily available seed crop!
If you want to help birds a little more, please, come to our Annual Fundraising Dinner on November 17 in Owen Sound. See bpbo.ca for details.
This will be my last posting of migration monitoring in 2018. I will hopefully resume writing all about bird migration in Spring 2019. So long for now!