For one reason or another my blog has suffered over the past weeks, as I haven’t posted any new updates for some time. Hopefully I can do better in the weeks ahead.
This past weekend was the start of the summer banding for some of the breeding birds in the local area. Due to high winds out of the NE that were gusting near 30 knots, mist nets were not an option, so I used only a couple of walk-in ground traps. I used a small 18” square funnel trap and a small Potter trap baited with millet, which the birds were used to eating at the feed stations. Using the traps, I caught three species of birds, listed in order of abundance caught: Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, and Common Redpoll.
The totals for the longspur banding was 51 new birds and 6 recaptures from previous year's banding. Of the new birds, 22 were adults and 29 were juveniles. Most of the adults were showing various amounts of body and wing molt, with some adults having no tails and only the outer two wing primaries at full length. With most of the adults in some stage of molt, this made three females I banded stand out, in that they had no molt signs and still had fully developed brood patches. So it would appear they were working on a second brood, either because of a failed first clutch or a second brood after completing the first. Perhaps that is why we see more male longspurs feeding begging juveniles up around the feeders earlier on. Of the recaptured longspurs, the oldest was banded as a juvenile in 2005, making it just over 4 years old. All the others were banded in 2007.
Male longspur with his tail and some of the wing primaries missing.
The banding totals for the snow buntings were about half of the longspur numbers, reflecting fewer around and that they are less trusting and don’t go into the traps as readily as longspurs. This makes it hard to catch some of the prior year's banded birds, as the adults become trap shy quickly. Of the 30 new bandings, only 6 were adults, and three of the four females had brood batches, indicating they had double brooded this year. The adult snow buntings were not as far into molt as the longspurs and still had their breeding colors. Two of the oldest juveniles were loosing their gray first plumage and going into the prebasic to replace the body feathers and acquire their brownish winter plumage.
Juvenile snow bunting still in first plumage gray.
Juvenile bunting showing start of prebasic molt of the brown winter plumage starting to show.
a summer worn male snow bunting, just starting molt.
Photo shows older sibling giving a younger one a treat while waiting for one of the adults to return.
Now I just need calmer weather so I can try my luck with some of the shorebirds that are around the lodge and edge of our lake.