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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Albert Creek Update - April 23 to May 8, 2013

Spring 2013 will definitely go down in the record books. It all started on April 20th when our crew travelled from Whitehorse to Watson Lake to prepare for our usual start date of April 23rd. Weather from the get go was constantly making things difficult. After setting up nets on the 22nd we were set to go but the weather was not and neither were the birds. Any real netting effort was not achieved until May 5th. We were shut down on many days until this date due to snow, rain, severe cold and/or all the above. This is the first year since its beginnings in 2001 that the station has been so thwarted by weather. While the bad weather persisted the ACBO team still forged on preparing the site by shoveling board walks. We also put in an effort on most days to observe and record any birds that were on site or migrating over. By April 29th we began to count the many Tundra Swans, Greater white-fronted Geese and raptors flying over the site. A Pileated Woodpecker was observed  on a few days and a Gray-crowned Rosy Finch was banded on April 29th; a new species banded for ACBO.

Banding Birds at Albert Creel

White-crowned Sparrow tail

On May 5th the songbirds finally started to arrive led by White-crowned Sparrows which was unusual as any other year we see  Juncos and Tree Sparrows lead the onslaught of sparrow mayhem. In four days we banded 277 White-crowned Sparrows with only a hand full of Juncos and Tree Sparrows.  We were running very few nets at this time due to the persistant snow on the trails and the high volume of birds present. On the Warbler front, by May 8th we had new arrivals including Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Orange-cowned Warbler and Northern Waterthrush.

Measuring wing chord on a Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Male Wilson's Warbler
The Albert Creek crew during this time included Jim Hawkings (trailor transporter, observer and net lane snow packer), Sarah Davidson (moral support, observer and site worker when there were no birds), Ayla Mullen and Rhianna Stavish are here for the entire spring season. They are SOYBO’s first interns which is a milestone for the observatories. They both hale from Evergreen state college in Olympia ,Washington. Susan and Barry Drury have been very gracious in inviting these young women into their home in Watson Lake. Ayla and Rhianna have endured the rigors of net running on snow shoes, walking gear into the site while we wait for the road to melt and putting up with  their field supervisor. They are very keen to learn and have shown true grit when things got rough.   

Banding Totals as of May 8th

Black-capped Chickadee - 1
Boreal Chickadee - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 37
Varied Thrush - 1
Northern Waterthrush - 1
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler - 5 
Wilson's Warbler - 3
American Tree Sparrow - 12
Savannah Sparrow - 8
Lincoln's Sparrow - 28
Fox Sparrow - 6
White-crowned Sparrow - 278
Golden-crowned Sparrow - 3
Slate-colored Junco - 21 
Gray-crowned Rosy Finch - 1
Common Redpoll - 181
Hoary Redpoll - 2

TOTAL - 587 birds of 17 species