Saturday, April 4, 2009

Frosty Nets, Fox Sparrows and Bluebirds.

This is the fifth spring season of passerine banding at FLSP. In 2005 and 2006 the station opened on March 1. In '07 and '08 opening day was moved to 15 March. The two week "delay" avoided some nasty patches of weather but it missed many of the earliest migrant to pass through FLSP--the remarkable Fox Sparrow.
With this in mind it was decided to open the station on seven of the first fourteen days in March this season.
The decision was a good one. Several mornings found the nets frosted, even "welded" together until the sun did its job. But between March 9 and March 18, ten new Fox Sparrows were banded. And on March 16 an old friend appeared in the nets. Originally banded on March 5, 2005 by Jethro Runco as a second-year FOSP and recaptured last year on March 18, this individual is on its fifth north-bound journey to the northern reaches of Canada! Indeed its band was very worn and quite thin. Fearing that it might be lost, we removed the well-travelled one and rebanded the bird with a shiny, new one.
Four Eastern Bluebirds were caught in the same net at the same time on March 16. Two other bluebirds which were not captured remained near the net as their mates were extracted. Among the four was a fine male which had been banded at FLSP on March 28, 2007. Steve Living of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was visiting the station on that day and banded the individual. Bluebirds seem to be doing well in the park this year. Their calls are heard almost daily along Long Creek. A beautiful female is pictured above.

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