FALLOUT!!!

We started the day by teaching the trainees how to set up nets. By 8am, we’d caught no birds in the new nets, so we decided to open up the meadow nets that have been so reliable. By 9am, we’d only caught 2-3 birds, an unusually slow start to the day. At the 9am net run, we came upon our first net – with 13 birds in it (all warblers, 4 different species)! We left a few people to extract birds from that net and the rest of us moved onto the net in the meadow alders, which was filled to the brim with 27 birds! At the final net, there were 24 birds, about 15 of which (all juvenile Yellow-rumped Warblers) we released at the net – there were just too many birds to safely band. As it was, it took a full hour to extract the 60+ birds from the net, and took until 1pm to process them all. Fortunately, we’d closed the nets after that net run, so did not continue to get inundated with birds.

For our trainees, it was a bit intimidating, especially for some who were doing their first net extractions this morning. But the group was ready to band again in the afternoon – so at 4:30, with the meadows still swarming with birds, we opened the nets back up. In an hour, we caught 23 birds at net 5 (where we’d had 27 in the morning – that net was open for a total of 2 hours and caught 50 birds).

By the end of the day, we’d caught 106 birds (98 of them in only 3 nets), a new single day record for the six years weve been holding the Cascades Banding Camp.

Of thest 106 birds, only a handful were adults, and only a few were recaps. As we’ve hypothesized, these wet, high elevation meadows seem to be an important stopover habitat for juvenile birds prior to their seasonal migration.

The quantity of birds was like a classic, eastern spring fallout. These birds had not been in the meadow the day before. They likely had come through with the front the night before, landed in the meadow in the night, and then rested through the night and late into the morning (hence the later than usual start to the bird activity).

It was truly an amazing day.

These montane wet meadows are important areas for juvenile birds.

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