Saturday, October 27, 2018

October 27, 2018

Not too much new news.  Banding with Dr Ed Rykiel and team on Tuesday was a bit slow but started off with a bang.  Two Hermit Thrushes and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Not too sure how many other birds but it was fairly quiet.

Hermit Thrush

Thought you might enjoy seeing one of the banded White-crowned Sparrows.  We have two split colors:  red/blue and yellow/orange.  This pictures shows how even with a camera it can be tough telling all 4 bands.  This one is split over silver on the left and bright blue over dark green on the right.  The blue one isn't visible.

White-crowned Sparrow (immature)

Friday, October 19, 2018

October 18 & 19, 2018

The White-crowned Sparrow Project (WCSP) is officially launched.  We have our state and federal permits and the colored bands arrived Tuesday evening so we are ready to go.

I originally worked with White-crowned Sparrow banding from 2007 until our move to Florida in 2011.  We banded almost 1400 White-crowned Sparrows at three main locations.  The color bands only indicated age and locations (all birds got a federal and 1 or 2 color bands). 

That initial study documented site-fidelity as was its intent but returns could only be counted to the largest number seen at any one time (6).  So site-fidelity was proven but percentages could not be calculated.  This new study allows us to individually mark birds so that we can observe how long an individual stays and if it returns in subsequent years as well as what percentages do come back to the same site.

Incidental captures have been included in this research project.  During the first study we banded 20 different incidental species.  It will be most interesting to see what additional species are caught as we band White-crowned Sparrows.

If you are in the Tri-Cities I hope you will hear more about this project and if you are interested in learning more, you can reach out to

So, our initial banding day netted us 24 White-crowned Sparrows.  We also banded 7 Dark-eyed Juncos.  Six of these were the expected "Oregon" subspecies.  One was a "Slate-colored" subspecies and is not commonly seen.  This Slate-colored is a bit different than the east coast one.  In the Sibley Guide to Birds see the Rocky Mountain illustration.  We also banded two House Finches and an American Robin.

White-crowned Sparrow
first color combination

White-crowned Sparrow
first color combination

Dark-eyed Junco - slate colored
Rocky Mountain form

On the second day we were pleased to see birds banded the previous day.  We color banded 18 more White crowned Sparrows.  Incidental captures included 2 Dark-eyed Juncos, a House Finch and a Song Sparrow.  We do not have as many Song Sparrows at this site as seen in more wooded areas so it was nice to band this one.  We were very pleased to also catch a White-throated Sparrow that we had been seeing.  This species is rare on the west coast but usually at least annual, in low numbers in our area.  We banded one additional White -crowned Sparrow but did not use color bands.  It had a healed broken leg that would not have allowed the color bands to move.  It just got a federal (silver) band on its uninjured leg.

White-throated Sparrow (in yard several days prior to banding)

We will be adding 2 new locations and will keep you up to date on our progress.  

October 16, 2018

We are continuing to band with Dr Ed Rykiel and today we banded at the Amon Creek Natural Preserve.  This area is slowly being surrounded by housing and may not withstand the onslaught.  However, we did have our best day banding there and the birds were very active.  We banded the expected sparrows:  White-crowned (15) and Song (4) Sparrows.  The photos of the White-crowns will get you ready for our own upcoming project.  Mature birds (not born this past breeding season) have black and white stripes.  Immature birds' stripes are more buffy and brown.  Very easy to age until next spring when the White-crowns molt and all ages become black and white striped. 

adult White-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

hatch-year White-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also caught quite a few Yellow-rumped Warblers (21).  We enjoyed the challenge of trying to age and sex them.  These are the Audubon subspecies of Yellow-rumps.  The yellow throat is the obvious difference from the Myrtle Yellow-rumps we banded in Florida.  Also note the lack of eye stripe that Myrtle has.

Audubon's race of Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Always a pleasure to catch and band are the kinglets.  They are so small it is amazing to hold them.  We caught 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  The first one was female and lacks the hidden ruby feathers.  The second one was a male with a brilliantly colored crown.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

We also banded an American Robin, an American Goldfinch, and 2 House Finches.  We will continue to band with Dr Rykiel but the good news is that by the end of today our color bands should arrive and we will start banding on October 18.  Let's see what we learn.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October 2, 2018 another new species banded

We hope we are making progress toward our new banding project.  We now have our federal permit updated to WA state and our new project.  The proposal has also been submitted for our state permit.  The state agency has a maximum 60 days to review the application so it might be a while until we can start our banding.

In the meantime we are still working with Dr Ed Rykiel on his project.  We go out to local parks on most Tuesdays and today was no exception.  His project color bands four species; White-crowned Sparrows, Song Sparrows, House Finches, and Dark-eyed Juncos.  They are only banded with one color that indicates the location banded.  We have typically been catching the two sparrow species and a few more regulars.  The juncos aren't back yet and the House Finches are more typically caught later at feeders.

Today we banded 14 birds.  Most were the expected Song and White-crowned Sparrows.  We also caught a Bewick's Wren.  There were three other really fun birds:  Almost first off we caught an Orange-crowned Warbler.  This one was quite yellow, typical of a western sub-species.

Orange-crowned Warbler
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Then we caught two Golden-crowned Kinglets.  Usually this species is very high in coniferous trees.  We have seen them low in shrubs during migration before so maybe they were moving.  This is #117 if you are following my banding life list.  Both birds were male and showed off their golden crown with the hidden red stripe.  It doesn't entirely show in this photo but you can see a hint of red.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Later we caught a Golden-crowned Sparrow.  Both "golden" birds were new for Bill.

Golden-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Bill LaFramboise

Not a bad day of banding.