Stephane’s blog for October 30, 2015 -The last week…

Stormy weather, fall 2015
Stormy weather, fall 2015

Storm! (Oct. 30)

The past week was marked by an intense wind- and rainstorm shutting
down banding for two days! On Wednesday, an extremely strong East wind
blew all day, driving rain horizontally and whipping whitecaps on
giant Georgian Bay and tiny Wingfield Basin alike. Naturally, there
was no banding and observation was reduced to a minimum. Conditions
were barely better the following day, with a still very strong wind
that had shifted to West and rain being on and off all day.

Prior to the tempest, we had 3 extremely productive banding days,
especially on Monday 26, when 71 birds were banded, the second highest
daily total of the season! A majority of the banded birds were
American Tree Sparrows, a late migrant; some years, so late that it is
barely captured at Cabot Head. On October 26 of this fall, an
impressive 37 American Tree Sparrows were captured and banded. It is
the third highest daily total after 41 on October 29, 2010, and 38 on
October 26, 2004. These 2 years were unusual as well, with seasonal
totals of 88 and 56, respectively. In other years, totals for this
species have oscillated between 11 and 29 birds, less birds in a
season than during the aforementioned days! With still another day of
banding, the very last on the very last day of October, we have
already reached a total of 90 American Tree Sparrows this fall, the
highest ever!

Besides American Tree Sparrows, there are still a few Juncos and
White-crowned Sparrows around, as well as the last Golden-crowned
Kinglets. Other stragglers include 2 Orange-crowned Warblers on the
26th (latest date on record for Cabot Head), a Hermit Thrush on the
27th, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler on the 30th.

PIWO _ Pileated Woodpecker (male)
PIWO _ Pileated Woodpecker (male)

We were also delighted and – to be frank – completely amazed on the
busy day of the 26th: a second Pileated Woodpecker was captured! This
time, it was a young male. Never before have we captured 2 of this
giant woodpecker in a single season. It is such a big bird, not
forgetting a chisel in place of a bill, that 2 people are required to
band and measure it. One holds the bird, making sure the muscular neck
is controlled, as the irate woodpecker would not hesitate to drill
into human flesh and bones; the other one puts the band and takes the
various measurements.

It is quite a change from the several Downy Woodpeckers we’ve beenIMG_1068 (2)
banding lately, young birds dispersing in search of territories of
their own. As the name implies, it is the smallest species of
woodpeckers in our woods, and a far cry from a Pileated!

Now most of the leaves have been blown down from the remnant of a
hurricane; the woods have gone mostly silent; and even the American
Tree Sparrows won’t linger for much longer. And the crew here in
beautiful Cabot Head will also migrate to other skies after a
wonderful season! We still have one day to go: I will post another
entry to sum up the season.