Well, another banding day began today at 4:30am. Bethany, Reed, Kristin, and I enjoyed the songs of eastern pewees, ovenbirds, and common yellowthroats along with others as we fumbled to opened our ten nets in the morning twilight. Despite the comfortable weather and abundant insects today's netting effort proved that each day is different. We returned from our first net run surprised to see that none of us had captured a bird! Our bewilderment continued throughout the day. There was a remarkable lack of birds flying into our nets and evidence that birds had settled onto nests.
(photo by Kristin Babcock)
All this is part of the experience and as Reed relates below there was a useful bit of extra time to catch up on our protocols, tell a few stories, and eat a few blueberries...he also describes his project surveying osprey nests! Thanks for sharing Reed.
From BRI Intern Reed Wommack:
Phew…This past banding session was a change of pace in a number of ways:
1.) I got to sleep in until 3:05! That’s an extra twenty minutes that kept me awake the rest of the day.
2.) Last banding sessions I accidentally released a bird, and I felt terribly inadequate. Don’t go telling everyone this… but this time one of the supervisors who has upwards of ten years of experience banding birds released a bird too! He or she will remain anonymous to preserve his or her pride.
3.) We only caught three birds (and one bumblebee). Patrick explained that unlike two weeks ago, males weren’t out flying around to defend territory, and instead all the birds had settled down onto nests. In fact one of the birds we caught was swollen with an egg and looked like it was going to lay it within the next 24 hours.
4.) Since we weren’t too busy banding birds, we had copious amounts of free time discuss birding lore. I heard of the living legend Grace “The Ace” Tuckerman, who was so deft she could literally shake the net and the bird would fall into her hands within seconds. Patrick also told us that an immature crossbill he caught six years ago in Idaho had just been recaptured in the exact same spot. Talk about site fidelity…
On another note, over the weekend I got started on an Osprey nest survey for BRI that I am completing as a mini-project. The goal is to visit all known nesting sites each year and see whether they are still active, and if so how many chicks fledge, and use this data to gain insight into long-term patterns of Osprey population and survival.On Sunday afternoon, I did my first expedition to look at the seven Portland harbor nest sites. Six of the seven were still active, and most had hatched two chicks. I even saw one of the nestling’s awkwardly first attempts at flight (think drunk Gumby dancing), which fittingly also reminded me of a toddler learning to walk.
The one nest that no longer existed, should have been on a pier near a massive oil tanker, so I spent nearly half an hour standing in a cemetery scanning the tanker with binoculars, cameras, and telescopes, until I realized that I was being really…well… sketchy. In the post 9/11 world I didn’t think a security guard would believe my story: “Oh, but sir, I was ..umm…just looking for a non-existent Osprey nest that happened to be right next to a likely …uh…terrorist target,” and so I collected my belongings and moved on before I was confronted. But looking back being busted and interrogated for bird watching would have been pretty cool…
Our unofficial species tally for the day:
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothylypis trichas)
Until next time,
BioDiversity Reserch Insitute