December 2010 Banding Activities
December has not been an active month for banding. During normal years, winter birds arrive in the Concho Valley in great numbers during this month. Bluebirds, winter sparrows, Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches and others often make for interesting banding if you don't mind being a little cold. With the warm, dry weather that has dominated our weather since early fall, our December has not been typical.
Three banding efforts were made in the month. Early in the month, an effort was made on a area of the Hummer Ranch where banding is not normally done. We surveyed that section of the ranch as a banding location for winter birds. During that effort such winter birds as Vesper Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes were banded. Although Western Meadowlarks are present in our area throughout the year, they are more common at the Hummer Ranch in winter. Three of these were banded along with several year round residents including Pyrrhuloxia , Field Sparrows, and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers.
In the middle of the month, we traveled to Twistflower Ranch to survey the winter birds at that site. It was very dry at the ranch. Banding was active around water sources until a front approached with high winds which made banding difficult. Winter birds banded at that site included Ruby-crowned Kinglets, an Oregon Junco, White-crowned Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes. Along with these birds, we banded many year round residents including Verdins and Western Meadowlarks which were the first of these birds banded at this location. The birds of the day were Black-throated Sparrows. Although, we have banded this species at the ranch on several occasions, the number of these birds present on the ranch was incredible. We banded 28 Black-throated Sparrows in a short period of time and could have banded many more if the weather had continued good. The Oregon subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco was the first of this subspecies that we have banded in some time.
We are always excited to band White-crowned Sparrows. There are several subspecies and most subspecies breed in Northern Canada. The site fidelity of these birds is such that we often recapture the same bird winter after winter at the same location where they were first banded.