Monday, November 14, 2011

A little bird feeder banding

This weekend we got out and set up a net to try to trap and band some of the birds frequenting our bird feeders. We have been trapping Black-capped Chickadees here at our farm since February 12, 2010. On November 11, we captured 11 unbanded Black-capped Chickadees and 2 chickadees that already wore bands. The two recaptured chickadees were banded at our feeders on Feb 13, 2010, and on Feb 21, 2010. That was approximately 21 months ago!

Band #2031-73210 was originally aged as a Second Year bird, meaning it was hatched in 2009, so it is now ~2.5 years old, while #2031-73202 was originally aged as a After Second Year bird, which means it hatched in 2008 or earlier, so it is atleast 3.5 years old and may be older. These birds weighed 12.6g and 12.2g on Nov 11, 2011, and 13.6g and 12.4g on their initial capture dates. This photo shows the wing of Chickadees #202. You can see the greater coverts have nice bold white edges. The primary coverts are nice and broad with some white peppering the middle of the feathers. These two characteristics suggest this is an older bird, which is confirmed by the band it was wearing.

We had been seeing this bird at the feeder for a couple of days and were excited to capture it. It is a White-throated Sparrow. This is a tan-striped bird, as you will notice the white and black crown, and white throat are not very colourful. We hope it survives the winter! Normally these birds will winter in the southeastern United States.

To learn more about White-throated Sparrows check out this website (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A big surprise in Wascana Centre!

Well the snow fell on Sunday this week and already a Northern Hawk Owl shows up in the Centre just yesterday (Nov 7, 2011)!!

This is the second NHOW that has been in Regina in the last three years. This is a very unique find as the Northern Hawk Owl spends almost all of its time in the forests of northern Saskatchewan. It is quite unusual to find it south on the prairies. Margaret Belcher's "Birds of Regina" (1980) makes no mention of Hawk Owls in Regina.

We were able to capture this bird this morning and band it.
The bird weighed 330 gram, with a wing chord of 227mm. I aged it as an AHY as it had retained primaries, secondaries, primary coverts, alula, and median and lesser coverts. However, the greater coverts were all replace. You can see this in the photo below.

The bird was originally spotted by Dan Sawatsky on his street in southern Regina. I later saw it in the Habitat Conservation Area in Wascana Centre. This morning it was in the Display Ponds.

Kim Mann snapped this photo and allowed me to post it here. Thanks Kim!

56 NSWO to date

So things never really picked up for saw-whets this year. Our highest capture rate in one night was 9 birds. With this snow maybe a few might still be moving through....