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.