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10/01/2010

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Fallout


Thursday night's clear skies and strong North wind provided the ideal conditions for migration. Indeed, when I checked the radar this morning it looked like a heavy migration was taking place. Before I left for the station the birds had not yet landed, but when I arrived an hour before sunrise the darkness resounded with bird calls; the dry chips of Myrtle Warblers, the "zeets" of White-throated Sparrows, and the chirps of Hermit Thrushes.

Doppler radar at 5:38 am showing bird migration

The wind was too strong to open nets on the North side of the peninsula, so we opened 11 of the nets. That ended up being a good thing, because in our second net check we had over 100 birds! Luckily there were plenty of experienced extractors and helpers on hand, and we quickly removed the birds from the nets before shutting all of them. Then the banding began...

Once things calmed down, a couple of nets were re-opened. By the end of the day I had banded 157 birds! 85 of them were Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warblers! Luckily I have had lots of practice ageing and sexing Myrtles recently, so it is possible to process them in about 30 seconds. The other main species were Golden-crowned Kinglets, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, and Hermit Thrushes. Our one recapture was a male Black-throated Blue Warbler.

After second-year Male Black-throated Blue Warbler


Once I was able to go back outside, I was amazed. There were birds on every tree, shrub, and flower stalk. Even the paths were covered with Palm Warblers and Dark-eyed Juncos. I have never seen so many birds at TTPBRS - truly what I would call a fallout!