Banding in the beginning part of December seemed more like an extension of the fall migration than early winter. This was due to a larger number of unbanded birds caught, 119, vs. recaptures (103). Our maximum December total is 447 in 2005 (helped largely by a very protracted movement of fall migrants that year), followed by 312 in 1985 (helped by the banding 130 Evening Grosbeaks!).
So, with more banding days to go, this December's total already is the third highest in the history of the program. Dark-eyed Juncos (70 banded) top the list for the current period, and many seemed to still be actively migrating almost to the end of the period--22 were banded on 12/19.
American Goldfinches (69 banded) were the second most numerous of nineteen species banded during the period. With the exception of House Sparrow (12 banded), other species all were banded in single digits. With just 200 net- and 15 trap-hours of effort, the overall capture rate of 86 new birds per 100 net-trap hours for the period was unusually high.
Several unexpected captures added to the mid-December diversity, including late migrating Fox Sparrows banded on 12/5 and 12/9; two late or wintering Yellow-rumped Warblers on 12/9, one of these being an adult female ascribable to the Alaskan subspecies, Dendroica coronata hooveri; a late or wintering Swamp Sparrow banded on 12/9; two Eastern Bluebirds banded on 12/22; and four Pine Siskins (one on 12/15 and three on 12/22).
Our most unusual December capture, however, was a Northern Mockingbird (HY-U) on 12/6. Only twelve NOMOs have ever been banded at Powdermill, and this is just the second December capture (the other one was banded on 12/5 in 1978).
Unfortunately, the pictures were inadvertently deleted, but trust us, this bird left quite an impression on Powdermill's Bander-in-Charge (it was bright purple!).
Apparently, not long before its capture, the mockingbird had been feasting at a patch of remaining, overripe pokeberries still hanging on their wilted stalks outside the banding lab!
Another unusual December capture was a hatching year Hermit Thrush on 12/19 (note the particularly obvious buffy "tear drops" on its retained juvenal greater coverts and scapular feather).
Although not caught and banded, we enjoyed a brief visit to the feeding table outside the banding lab by a few Evening Grosbeaks on 12/6.
Unfortunately, none has been seen, heard, or banded since.