2013 Fall Migration
Last year's fall migration season produced far fewer numbers and species than expected at the Hummer Ranch. We reasoned that the drought in the mid-western states was the cause of this shortfall and hoped for better results in 2013. Although 2013 produced good results in many respects, those results could not be considered typical for the ranch. Many warbler species were later than normal in arriving and several species were quite reduced in numbers or failed to make an appearance. However, some species appeared in record numbers. We banded only one Orange-crowned Warbler in September. In previous years, we averaged about 40 Orange-crowned Warblers in the fall. At the same time, we banded record numbers of Yellow Warblers and Wilson's Warblers. Although smaller numbers of some species continued through October, they were still well below average numbers. The warbler data from the 2013 season will be unlike any of the data that we have recorded in the past six seasons.

Empidonax flycatchers appeared in good numbers early in the season and continued to be banded throughout September. Record numbers of Willow Flycatchers and Least Flycatchers were banded during the season. We also banded our first Acadian Flycatcher on the ranch and recorded our second Alder Flycatcher for the ranch during this time. The total number of these small flycatchers was higher than at any time that banding has been conducted on the ranch.

After an unusual fall migration season, we did not have high hopes for banding during the fall and early winter. The number of migrants drops dramatically during October and few birds are encountered until the arrival of wintering and interruptive species that often visit in November and December.  Although our numbers for this season are never large we have encountered several interesting species. Blue Jays have only been present at the ranch one year out of the past twenty-five but arrived in late October and we have banded several. In late October, we also managed to band our first Brown Thrasher on the ranch which raised our total species banded on the ranch to 153. In early November, we encountered a third Common Ground-Dove for the year, our second Fox Sparrow for the year and two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers along with our first winter sparrows. We were glad to recapture Song Sparrows, Lincoln Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and Spotted Towhees that were originally banded in the 2010-2011 seasons. All of these were netted in the same areas where they were originally banded.  In late November, while banding winter birds at our East Windmill banding station we banded an adult male Western Bluebird. Although this species is sometimes seen at the ranch, this was the first of this species banded there and raised our total species on the ranch to 154 species and two hybrids. Unless we have unexpected success in the next few weeks, we will finish the year with 3150 birds of 92 species at the Hummer House. The total number of birds banded at the Hummer House now stands at 49230.

2013 Painted Buntings
The month of August always signals the end of summer breeding season, the end of our MAPS season, and the arrival of the first fall migrants at the Hummer House. At the end of the summer breeding season, we always turn our energies to banding hatching year Painted Buntings before they depart for their winter grounds. A large percentage of Painted Buntings raised on the ranch will return in future years to nest and raise their own young in that habitat. Recapturing these returning birds yields excellent data as to Painted Bunting survivability and the status of the breeding population on the ranch. As we compiled records for our study of this species in late August at the Hummer House, we banded our 6000th Painted Bunting at that site. We ended the season with 641 banded for the year and a total of 6035 since the first of this species was banded there some 19 years ago. This number represents about one-third of the Painted Buntings banded in the United States during this time period and nearly half the number of this species banded in Texas. Since we started our study some five years ago, more than two-thirds of Painted Buntings in Texas have been banded at this site. It was a good year for this species and many other breeding birds as they enjoyed excellent reproductive success after the historical drought of 2011. Such species as the Vermilion Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Bell's Vireo have experienced notable recoveries this season.