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Monday, May 7, 2012

A Bird Comes Home

It being such a beautiful morning, I couldn’t resist taking a short walk down to the North Branch to see what migrant birds had arrived over the weekend. I wasn’t disappointed – Common Yellowthroat, Gray Catbird, Yellow Warbler, Northern Parula, Osprey and Eastern Kingbird were all singing, feeding or flying down along the river. The highlight, however, was a Chestnut-sided Warbler, which was boldly declaring its territory with a loud “please, pleased, pleased to meetcha”.

As soon as I heard the warbler singing, I wondered if it might be banded. We started a bird banding operation here at the North Branch Nature Center last summer and we banded a total of 22 Chestnut-sided Warblers. In fact, the very first bird we banded was a Chestnut-sided Warbler. Even though this was my first sighting of the species for the season, I thought just maybe this particular bird was one of our local breeders.

Sure enough, when I raised my binoculars, I immediately saw the tiny, shiny aluminum band around its right leg. It was one of our birds!  I had already seen banded Black-capped Chickadees and Song Sparrows on the property this spring, but seeing this Chestnut-sided Warbler was an exhilarating experience. Here was a bird that either nested or was born here on the property – and then migrated thousands of miles to some tropical locale like Costa Rica - and then back again!

Seeing a Chestnut-sided Warbler is always special, but knowing that this individual was intimately connected to this place and that he had survived such an enormous migration to come back the North Branch Nature Center, was truly a gift.  

Posted by Chip Darmstadt

Photo credit: William H. Majoros
Interested in seeing a Chestnut-sided Warbler for yourself - or checking out a bird banding demonstration? Come to Bird Fest at the North Branch Nature Center on Saturday, May 19. Visit the North Branch Nature Center website for more info.

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