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.  

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