Friday, 8 September 2017

first white crowned sparrow of the autumn

immature white crowned sparrow  last year the first was banded sept 20th

Yesterday there was so much rain that we were confined to the dorm all day, so it was a relief to get back to the fresh marsh air and see what birds had moved in while we were away. The first net round produced a decent number of white-throated sparrows, so we decided that today was the day to set the J-trap and see which other seed-eating species were moving through the area.  

this sparrow speaks with a lisp! Lincoln sparrow   banders short form is lisp 

 On my first few weeks at the marsh in April and May I saw the spectacle of the spring American tree sparrow migration, with clouds of the birds filling the J-trap and weighing down the feeder nets. These birds will use the marsh as a stopover site, using the corn we provide at the feeders to fatten up and continue their journey north to their breeding grounds. Considering we banded 1259 in just one season in one tiny area of Ontario, the sheer scale of migration across Canada is unimaginable. This was then followed by a wave of white-crowned sparrows of almost equal magnitude.
And it isn’t just numbers of sparrows that are impressive in Canada, but also the diversity. Back in England, the only sparrow I see regularly is everybody’s favourite:  the house sparrow. That looks pretty lame compared to the 13 species I’ve seen at the marsh so far, including clay-coloured, field, fox and even Nelson’s sharp tailed sparrows.
The high hopes for the J-trap today might have been a bit premature as we had just 1 whitethroat in the first couple of checks. However in the last check we were surprised to find the first white-crowned sparrow of the fall (almost 2 weeks earlier than last year), a sign of things to come as all of these birds begin to make their return journey south.
A record breaking bird for the day was winter wren number 4 for 2017, exactly one week after the last one.
record setting winter wren
Totals: 68 birds, 17 species
Eastern white crowned sparrow 1
White-throated sparrow 10
Lincoln’s sparrow 3
Swamp sparrow 2
Red eyed vireo 2
Nashville warbler 16
Tennessee warbler 3
Magnolia warbler 1
Chestnut sided warbler 1
Western palm warbler 6
Common yellowthroat 7
Wilson’s warbler 1
Black capped chickadee 5
Ruby crowned kinglet 3
Veery 1
Swainson’s thrush 5

Winter wren 1

Joanne Hamilton with winter wren

News from the banding front for the first time ever the marsh is poised to pass a milestone. We are 110 birds  from the 10,000 mark for the year. I wonder what the 10,000 bird will be  stay tuned for exciting news regarding this exciting  moment for banders and the marsh community.

Nicole  the writer of this blog and international banding sensation with the wren she extracted in the back corner 

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