Birdacious Banding!

With the very warm and humid weather forecast for this morning, I was tempted to cancel banding – but Cailin, a trained bander and volunteer, was coming early and it was fairly cool at that hour of the morning, so we went ahead on schedule and opened the nets at six. We were not prepared for our first net run. The first net held 16 birds (normally there’s 3 or 4) and the rest of the nets were not much different.


We usually use cloth drawstring bags at RRBO, but keep a supply of paper bags and clothespins on hand, just in case. Good thing, because we filled every one this morning.

We finished up the morning around 11 AM, as it was getting too hot to continue. Our final tally was 50 new birds of 14 species, including a new species for banding at RRBO.


The ‘new kid’ was a female chestnut-sided warbler. She was very patient and sweet while we processed and photgraphed her.


Baltimore orioles, both adults and recently fledged birds topped the list; we banded eight.


Four rose-breasted grosbeaks were all recently fledged birds, and all males. Notice the pink underwing coverts – they are yellow on females.RBGRHYM

Yellow warblers, prairie warbler, red-eyed vireos, gray catbirds, scarlet tanagers, chipping and song sparrows, eastern phoebes, cedar waxwings, one ovenbird, a blue-gray gnatcatcher, and a black-billed cuckoo rounded out the list of species.

After we closed, I was going over paperwork when I received a call from the Camp office. There were about 100 day-campers having lunch in the pavillion – that fact alone makes me shudder, as we also have phoebes and barn swallows nesting there. And sure enough, there was a baby bird on the pavillion floor, amidst all those little kids!

It was one of the phoebes – nearly ready to fledge and probably driven to it by all those screaming children. I retrieved the bird and called Mike, who came bearing a very large ladder. Our attempts to return the birds to the nest failed. As Mike replaced the fledgling, another flew out.  He put that one back in the nest, and a third flew out.  That one I kept.  About half an hour later, one of the counsellors brought me another.  Normally, I would have left the phoebes in the bushes nearby, but the phoebes were also infested with mites. Not good for babies. I opted to take them to a nearby rehabber, where they would be treated for the mites and released when they were really ready.  There were two more in the nest, so Momma would continue to care for those and hopefully not miss her wayward offspring too much.


The phoebe kids had to wait until I did a birding program for about 60 of the day campers before they went into rehab. The kids were late, so I cut the program short anyway with the good excuse of having to take the phoebes to the rehabber before they starved to death (a minor exaggeration, but it worked).

The day is drawing to a close. Time for coffee, putting my feet up, and relaxing. Life is sometimes hectic, but good.

Posted in Birds. 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “Birdacious Banding!”

  1. Ruth Says:

    Do you continue banding all season long? The Ausable Bird Observatory near Grand Bend ON, does it for just a few weeks of the year. I really would like to see it done. I wonder if the hot, humid (likely unsettled) weather contributed to your large numbers?

  2. Lynne at Hasty Brook Says:

    What an action packed day! I’m pleased that your post has confirmed my ID last week of female chestnut-sided warblers up at Hasty Brook! I sure do appreciate the close-up view you give us. There is so much more to see than in the field or even in a field guide. I think you showed/told us about the pink underwing coverts on rose-breasted grosbeaks earlier this spring. I actually got to see it when one fluttered about on my feeder. It reminds me of a cape lining! I didn’t know about the yellow on a female though.

    I ALWAYS learn something in your posts! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Love that last pic- one phoebe perky, one phoebe grumpy!!

  3. KGMom Says:

    Great photos–and a busy day. Glad you got a well-deserved rest at the end.
    Too bad the screaming kids panicked the baby phoebes–but sounds like they needed some extra care, so it all worked out.

  4. Nina Says:

    Hope your phoebes pulled through! The chestnut-sided warbler is so beautiful and sweet. You are very lucky to have her up close to admire like that. Thanks for the peek at her!

  5. obi4240 Says:

    Ruth – we band all year, but only a one or two days a week in the summer. Most stations band during spring and fall migration. Most stations also welcome visitors if you let them know you would like to come.

    Lynn – thanks. The second phoebe was definately the more perky of the two. The first one had had enough of kids, I think, and it shows!

    KGMom – mites are little bloodsuckers and can weaken and kill a fledgling if the infestation is heavy, so yes, at least these will be treated for mites before being released.

    Nina – latest update today is that the phoebe kids are doing just fine.

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