November Banding Activities
Banding in the late fall is always a different experience from the ever changing events during the height of migration. The number of true migrants drops significantly, and winter residents start to establish populations in the available habitat. At the same time, many birds that can be classified as winter residents are actually migrants passing through on their way to winter habitats further south. The ebb and flow of bird movements is often tied to the passage of weather fronts. It seems that the wind blows continually from the south on one day and from the north on the next. Banding in riparian areas becomes problematic because  of the heavy fall of leaves. In spite of these issues, our November banding at the Hummer House Ranch produced several notable birds. An effort on the first of the month was unique because of the number of hawks that became involved in the nets. Red Shouldered, Coopers, and Sharp-shinned Hawks hit our nets that morning. This was followed by the first Blue Jay ever banded at the Hummer House. Dan Brown remembers having  Blue Jays  on the ranch when he was a young man but they have been absent for at least the past twenty-five years.Two additional Blue Jays have been banded during the month at other locations on the ranch. 
Banding attempts on the east side of the ranch during the first two weeks of the month were largely unsuccessful. With the arrival of many winter sparrow species, a sparrow trap was constructed as part of the east banding station. This resulted in the netting of a good number of winter sparrows. Most notable were sixteen Lark Buntings, Vesper  and White-throated Sparrows. This was the first record of these birds on the ranch this year. 
The best effort of the month was at the South Concho River banding station. The first net run of the morning  yielded seven Spotted Towhees in a single net and the third Blue Jay of the month. Ten Spotted Towhees were netted that morning. The morning also resulted in the first Brown Creeper and the first Song Sparrows of the year on the ranch. Included in the birds netted that morning were two Wilson's Snipes and a Marsh Wren. These are the first records of these birds on the ranch. On the last day of the month, two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were added to our monthly  results. This brings the total number of birds banded on the ranch to 146 species and the number of species banded this year to ninety five.  
Delbert Tarter
11/11/1922 --10/21/2011
The entire Concho Valley birding community was saddened by the recent passing of Delbert Tarter. Delbert was the heart and soul of the local birding community for more than a generation. Delbert was the compiler of the Concho Valley Birding checklist through seven revisions, taught bird identification classes to a great number of local birders, was a long-time bird bander and most important of all, he was our friend. We will miss the good times that we shared around the banding table in all kinds of weather and at all hours of the day. We will miss his cheerful comments, knowledge of birds, record keeping, and his friendship. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his dedication to the birds and the birding community.

October Banding Activities
     The steady  movement of migrating birds at the Hummer House continued through the first week of October. During the first two days of the month, we banded 51 birds as part of our migration study at the big spring near the Hummer House. We were glad to have Kelly Bryan join with other members of our banding team during these two days. We had five species of warblers including an American Redstart, Least Flycatchers, a Gray Catbird, a Western Scrub Jay and a recapture of a Belted Kingfisher that we banded two weeks previously. The most significant  record was the banding of our 5th Baltimore Oriole for the season. That seems to defy all that we know about this species.  I am aware of one other Baltimore Oriole banded in the past twenty years of banding in the area with only limited sight records scattered between that time and this year. Encountering five of these birds in a single year only underscores how different 2011 has been for the movement of birds in the Concho Valley. Additional efforts on October 4th, 5th, and 6th continued to produce migrants in dwindling numbers and winter birds in increasing numbers. As if to place an exclamation point at the end of my  statement regarding 2011, two Western Tanagers were banded during these days. When we returned to band at the spring on October 11th, not a single migrant bird was encountered.

      One of our main projects for the month was the construction of a 20 foot aerial net in an area downstream from the spring headwaters to sample those birds that move  through the upper parts of the woodland canopy. The net was of the same design developed by Kelly Bryan for his banding research at several locations across west Texas.  He returned to San Angelo to lead our installation of the net.  The use of this net assembly will be limited during the winter season but will become a major component of our research during spring migration. During the time of construction, bird movement remained very slow and migrants of most species were not to be found. 

     On October 22nd, we returned to the Hummer House to have a banding demonstration for Dr. Maxwell's Natural History of the Concho Valley Class. Bird movement remained slow during that time and we look forward to the arrival more winter birds.