Yard Birdsong for Early February

Found at: sawv.org:70/feb2017-birdsong.txt

   Yard Birdsong for Early February 2017

   During a couple days midweek last week, Tue, Feb 7 through Thu, Feb 9,
   I heard SCJU singing around our backyard. That was the first time that
   I have heard juncos sing this season. Normally, I hear the first junco
   song around our home a little later in February. 

   The wintering juncos will sing their dull, muffled, rattling trill in 
   the late winter and early spring, until they move on. I normally sing 
   the last juncos in our yard, during the April 20-25 period. I've always 
   wondered if those last juncos were ones that wintered in our 
   neighborhood, or if those were birds that wintered further south and 
   had stopped by our yard on their way north. 
   I'm guessing the latter. It's possible that our wintering juncos leave
   in March. This is where banding birds, during the winter would help to 
   answer this question. Turnover may occur earlier than expected. If I 
   see 20 to 40 juncos in our backyard in mid to late March, are those the
   same juncos that existed in December and January? 

   Backyard junco numbers decrease noticeably by late March or early April. 
   The numbers continue to decrease through April, until I no longer see one.

   When I worked at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) from late May 2008
   to early November 2012, researcher Mark Shieldcastle banded the birds around 
   the BSBO feeders during some winters. Maybe not every winter. He would start 
   banding maybe in late November, but definitely in December, and he would 
   band into March, I think. Since the wintering bird feeder birds had little 
   turnover, he setup the nets only once a week or so. Maybe twice. I don't 

   In December and January, dozens of American Tree Sparrows (ATSP) would 
   forage around feeders at two locations, along the west side of the small 
   BSBO building. Numbers would total 60-plus. As the winter wore on and 
   Mark banded more, I could see the small, silver, lightweight metal band
   on the legs of most of the ATSP.
   In early February of 2010, I think, we experienced a warm-up with temps
   in the 50s and big southwest winds. The wind busted up the ice on 
   Lake Erie, stranding a lot of ice fisherman on a large ice flow. During 
   the few days of mild weather around the end of the first week of that 
   February, the ATSP were practically non-existent at the feeders. It 
   seemed that maybe they were enjoying the thaw of snow and ice and were 
   feeding in other areas.

   The mild weather ended, and it was back to normal, winter cold. The ATSP
   returned to the feeders by the dozens as before, except most or all of 
   the ATSP did not have the band. When Mark banded again, nearly all of 
   the ATSP were new birds. Few if any of the ATSP were recaps, the 
   wintering birds. 

   Turnover among the ATSP occurred in around the first or second week of 
   February. If simply viewing the birds at the feeders, it would have 
   been easy to assume that the same birds were still hanging around 
   because of the numbers. But winter banding proved that the ATSP had made
   a late winter migration movement, probably a small movement, based upon 
   local weather.

   The ATSP nest further north than the SCJU. The last ATSP are usually 
   observed at the beginning of April. Most migrate through in March, but 
   Mark's winter banding indicates that many ATSP probably migrate through 
   the Toledo area in February too.

   Anyway, does something similar occur with the juncos in our yard. How 
   long do the wintering juncos remain around our home?

   Back to other birdsong this month, on Sat, Feb 11, 2017, I heard an 
   NOCA sing in the morning over our backyard. That was the first cardinal
   song that I have heard this year around our home. Also singing that 
   morning: WBNU, ETTI, BCCH. But those three sang in January too.

   For the WBNU, the "song" is a fast, wavering up-and-down, nasally sound.

   American Ornithologists' Union Bird Banding Abbreviations:

   SCJU = Slate-colored Junco
   ATSP = American Tree Sparrow
   NOCA = Northern Cardinal
   WBNU = White-breasted Nuthatch
   ETTI = Eastern Tufted Titmouse
   BCCH = Black-capped Chickadee