When the students left just over a week ago, we had banded a total of 82 birds-not bad for just a couple weeks of netting, and with setbacks like a major fire tearing through half of the field site. A big push in netting occurred when Professor Jordan Karubian (Tulane University) was here and we had the highly competitive (ok not really) “Old Gold Challenge.” The rules? Catching one unbanded wren=one point, with bright males worth 2 points and recaptures worth just 0.25 points. The prize? Cadbury Old Gold chocolate! When Jordan left our total captures were at about 50 birds, and in the next couple weeks we were able to keep adding to that.
When I dropped the students off at the airport, I had set a goal for myself to make it to 100 banded birds in my final 2 weeks at Coomalie. However, netting solo can be difficult and after the first few days I was sure that I would never make it. In fact, in five days I failed to catch any new birds and was only able to get a couple of recaps. I was having terrible luck, with some birds bouncing and some birds just plain disappearing. However, my luck has since improved, and in the past 4 days I have been able to capture 22 new birds bringing our total up to 104! In the last week I will continue to band but I will probably shift my focus more towards resighting these birds to see who is hanging out with who. Some birds are definitely in pairs already, but as for the small and medium flocks, it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the coming breeding season. We’ll be able to tell for certain when we analyze the blood samples, but it seems like more than half of the birds are male, leading to a sex bias in the population that leads me to believe that we will have a fair number of groups with cooperative helpers this coming breeding season.