Stéphane’s Posting for Sept. 29/10

From Boom to Bust… to Boom Again!

Migration brings birds but not always in a steady, constant flows. It could be better described as tidal waves, with ebb and flow, low and high.

On Monday, September 27, we were close to submerged by the first big waves of late-fall migrants, mostly Kinglets. In the 6 hours of banding, we captured, marked, measured, aged, sexed, and safely released 95 birds. It was the highest count for this season, but not the highest ever by far. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun and excitement. As said, about half the birds were Golden-crowned Kinglets, little green twig dancers who like to travel in company.

It was a calm, but overcast day. But later in the morning, a light East wind started to blow. As often the case, East wind was the tell-tale of a depression coming through: it rained the next night. We still could open nets in the morning, under an overcast sky, but the picking was slim. Only 10 birds were banded, a big bust! And not even a single kinglet ended up in our nets… And rain started again in late morning and lasted the rest of the day.

The next day, Wednesday September 29, it was clear before the break of dawn when we set up our bird-catching devices. Clouds moved in quickly, though, bringing a dense gray blanket over our heads. However, this morning, boom time returned! We caught 81 new birds and 7 previously banded, and once again, Kinglets ruled, as kings should, even tiny ones. And better to have a golden crown than a ruby one, as 50 of the former were banded and only 2 of the latter. Boom and bust, it is how life goes on at a migration monitoring station…