Here in the Adirondacks, the lack of Winter Wrens is quite noticeable and alarming. On one of my recent trips, out all day, we didn't hear any! (That has never happened before.) At our home (in Long Lake) we usually have at least 3 we can hear singing, and for the first time in over 20 years, we don't hear any. I received a call from a birder friend in the Adirondacks yesterday and he specifically asked me if I had noted the lack of Winter Wrens (& Hermit Thrushes – yes, on this species also).
I was up on Whiteface Mountain at dawn on 5/27/18 and we could only remember hearing 2 to 3 singing Winter Wrens - they are usually abundant on the peak and dominate the airwaves with their songs. I'm sure this dramatic decline will be reflected in Mountain Birdwatch data this year. (Bicknell’s Thrushes sang and called from 4:20 to 5:40 a.m.) Swainson’s Thrush numbers are also noticeably down – both at high and low elevation (in addition to many other species declines I am observing this year – disturbing).
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From: Vermont Birds [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Chris Rimmer
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2018 10:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VTBIRD] Mansfield season underway
Last evening and this morning marked the beginning of VCE's 27th consecutive field season studying the Mansfield ridgeline's breeding bird population. I ventured up solo, arriving at 5:30 pm, to conditions that were about as benign as they could possibly be up there: 68 degrees F, calm and clear, with virtually no black flies. I set 8 mist nets and banded until dark, hearing the first Bicknell's Thrush (BITH) call at 5:58. Vocal activity was solid, with good numbers of the usual suspects, and 3 singing Purple Finches, an unusually high number. The dusk chorus itself was unimpressive, but a few BITH continued singing until 9:30, well after dark, and I may have heard a flight song or two. Seven birds found their way into the nets: 2 Swainson's Thrushes, 1 Am. Robin, 1 Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, 2 White-throated Sparrows, and a female Purple Finch with a fully-developed incubation patch.
The wind came up overnight and was still brisk from the SW when I returned at 4:15 am to open nets (adding one for a total of 9). Activity started slowly, but picked up nicely and was steady until I closed nets at 10:00, at which point wind had mostly dropped and the sun was hot. The undisputed banding highlight was a pair of White-winged Crossbills in a net together
-- I had not seen or heard any to that point, so it was quite a surprise to come upon them. I later heard a single bird calling, but they certainly are not all over the ridgeline by any means.
The morning's banding totals:
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 (there were 2 males singing all morning around
the upper parking lot)
Bicknell's Thrush 4 2 newly-banded birds, 2 return females from
previous years (one banded in 2014, one in 2016)
American Robin 1 female with full incubation patch
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 5
Purple Finch 1
White-winged Crossbill 2 female with regressing brood patch; may not
have nested locally
View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S46198634
I was struck by the complete absence of Winter Wrens (I didn't hear a single bird sing, which is just about unprecedented), and near absence of juncos (I finally heard one male sing). VCE will start our full operation next week, with weekly overnight visits through July.
As always, it was rejuvenating to be back up there!
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
PO Box 420 | Norwich, Vermont 05055