Delbert TarterThe 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 ActivitiesThe 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.