Posted | filed under Weekly Banding Reports.

After weeks of having too little to write about, I find myself with almost too much to write about. For starters, banding has finally picked up at the lab – our total has doubled since last week. We haven’t caught a large number of any one species in particular, but we have caught consistent numbers of a wide variety of species including, yellow warblers, Tennessee warblers, American redstart, myrtle warblers, blackpoll warblers and ovenbirds. Although improved banding totals are great, the thing I truly have too much to write about is our annual Baillie Birdathon that took place on May 22. The premise for the Birdathon is simple: birders collect donations and then go out and try to identify as many species as they can in a 24 hour period. Normally we simply try to beat our previous year’s total, but this year we challenged Ken Orich (an LSLBO member living in Lethbridge) to an epic north versus south birding battle royale; Ken accepted the challenge and recruited the help of Slave Laker Wayne Bowles… But I wrote about all that a couple weeks ago. What I’m sure everyone really wants to read about is the results! Ken and Wayne called themselves Team Thrasher, and they started their day off early; at 3:55 a.m. they hit the road so they could be at a primo spot at sunrise. Team Bander Awesomeness (TBA) started their day at the banding lab, starting the tally right at sunrise. It was as if the observatory knew it had been letting us down all spring and wanted to make it up to us; birds were singing and migrating heavily right from first light and the nets were catching some fantastic birds. One such bird was a veery – only the seventh one ever captured at the LSLBO. We also caught a white-crowned sparrow, a species that should have left the area weeks ago. Then on top of all that a Baltimore oriole, a species we only see a couple of each year, landed right in the parking lot! We were feeling really good about ourselves, and then we got a text from Team Thrasher that they had seen 39 species at just their first location. After finishing up at the lab we headed up Marten Mountain to find our junco, golden-crowned kinglet, and magnolia warbler. While enjoying a mountain picnic, we got the news that Team Thrasher had pulled ahead, it was 80 to 74. Reenergized by both food and the spirit of competition we commenced the pond-hopping-for-ducks stage of our Birdathon! The waterfowl kind of let us down and feeling a little discouraged we went inside for the first time all day to eat some supper and call the thrashers for an update. Lo and behold, we were actually ahead, 101 to 97! After that we found another two species before sunset. Before going to bed, I got their number: 104 to our 103. Our only hope was that something new would sing before sunrise the next morning. Thank you, hermit thrush, bird 104 for the tie! Later, while reviewing our tally we realized we miscounted, we actually had 105! We won! In the end though, the real winner was the birds; we had a ton of fun, but we also raised money for bird research and conservation. Thank you so much to everyone who donated. If you would like to donate as a congratulations or consolations to either team you still can. Simply email me at nicolelinfoot@yahoo.ca for more information.