June Banding Activities
The month of June was the hottest month on record for the Concho Valley. High temperatures were over 100 degrees almost the entire month. These temperatures limited our ability to safely band birds except during the cooler morning hours. Most of our activity for the month centered around the operation of the MAPS Station near the South Concho River on the Hummer Ranch. This continues to be an interesting and productive banding location. Each session continues to yield relatively large numbers of birds and new species are recorded at almost every session. We are tempted to credit these numbers to the current drought and the influx of birds from surrounding areas into the river corridor in their search for food and water. However, this part of the ranch is excellent habitat for a large number of birds and without previous banding efforts at this site, it difficult to determine the real effects of the drought on our MAPS records. Banding has been routinely conducted for several years near the river some distance north of this site. Banding at this second site has yielded only slightly higher numbers than in previous years. This leaves us without a significant clue in our efforts to explain such high number at our MAPS site. The bird of the month at the MAPS Station was a male Cooper's Hawk that decided to crash our MAPS Party during the June 21st session. No other birds were harmed but a rather disgruntled Cooper's Hawk was caught in a net and became the center of attention for visitors to the session. Cooper's Hawks are considered rare during this season at the Hummer Ranch.In addition to the MAPS site, we have continued with our Painted Bunting study at other locations on the ranch. We were also privileged to conduct a banding demonstration for members of the San Saba Birding Association during mid-June. These brave birders arose very early in the morning to be at the Hummer Ranch so that we could conduct the demonstration in the relative cool of the morning. We were glad to have good numbers of birds and species for them to view during the demonstration.
There are two interesting observations from June's banding activities. Most species of birds are making valiant efforts to produce offspring in the middle of this extreme drought and extreme heat. Unfortunately, we are not seeing hatching year birds in numbers close to previous years. Secondly, we have banded Black-and-White Warblers of both sexes throughout the month of June. We have not banded hatching year birds but there are indications that breeding is being attempted. They have historically been absent in the Concho Valley during the month of June.