Fall Banding Season Off to a Birdy Start
Hurricane Earl was hundreds of miles out at sea, but the storm’s effects were felt both in the large ocean swells that could be heard along the Cape’s backshore and at Wellfleet Bay’s banding station.
“It’s definitely affecting the birds,” notes master bander James Junda, who operates the station. “They can sense the storm, they’re moving around, and we’re catching them.” Of 31 birds banded the day before, 29 were new (and not previously-banded birds), and 15 different species.
Lots of Warblers
In the station’s first 11 days of operation, an unusual number of warbler species were banded: Wilson’s, Prairie, Mourning, Connecticut, Cape May, many waterthrushes, and redstarts. A few days later, the station banded Hooded and Chestnut-sided Warblers. James says these species are among those expected to be moving through now, but that the warm, tranquil days have boosted the numbers.
“ So far, we’ve only had to keep the nets closed (due to rain) for one day. Otherwise, there’s been little wind and we’ve been able to have all the nets open the whole time.”
There was excitement at the station recently when the banders discovered a Yellow-throated Vireo in the nets. “ They’re not rare, but we rarely detect them because Red-eyed Vireos are so common and their vocalizations can be mistaken for a Red-eyed Vireo,” James notes. He says people also confuse Yellow-throated Vireos with Pine Warblers, though the vireos look like they’re wearing yellow spectacles.
Public Banding Demos
On Friday mornings through the fall, James and his team hold public banding demonstrations, rare opportunities to see wild birds at very close range and to get insights into their amazing lives. James says people notice a lot about birds but they don’t always know what to make of their observations. “ I often hear, for instance, ‘ Why are the birds so quiet right now?’ That’s when I explain about the fall molt and that adults songbirds are replacing all of their feathers, which requires a lot of energy!”
Wellfleet Bay’s bird banding station holds public banding demonstration each Friday morning from 8:30-9:30 through mid-November. Groups are limited in size, so preregister now!