Its been just over a week with this female American Goldfinch coming around the nyjer feeders and teasing me with the flashes of her band. I've spent many hours out back with her in recent days. I've waited, I've stooped on the ground to shoot up at her, I've crawled across the grass to hopefully get a little closer or shift my angle, I've climbed on lawn furniture to shoot down on her, I've cursed at Squirrels, Pigeons and myself for spooking her, and I've "chimped"... that's a phrase a friend of mine uses to describe when one of us is going over our pics on our camera in the field and making noises of happiness over good shots... "oooooo" for this one, "oo oooooo" for another. And as I mentioned first, I've waited.
Today was +43c with the humidex in the mid-afternoon and crazy me went out back with Meadow and the Budgies. They were all loving it, Moonie and Misfit tweeted and squawked to the masses of feathered visitors. Meadow found a cool spot and quickly went for a nap. I wanted to join her but didn't.
At first I was focused on our partial leusistic House Sparrow "Snowflake". I've been trying to get a decent photo of her, showing off her white plumage. And of course I was keeping an eye out for the little lady Finch to come around.
Luck have it, Snowflake was visiting and put on a good show. Unfortunately she seldom stopped for more than a few seconds and never really landing where I wanted her to for a shot. But I will keep trying.
Sometime later I heard the familiar Goldfinch in flight call and I searched the trees for one. Oh happy joy to see it was our girl! I took a few bad pics, adjusted the settings and shot some more. Suddenly a Squirrel came bombing through the garden, right through the dozen plus Pigeons, sending them all flying, which in turn got every other bird high tailing it for cover, including my bird of interest.
One of many photos from today as she moved about the feeders.
She returned, fed at one feeder, flew to another, back and forth, then over to the clothes line, back to the feeders. And all through this I just kept taking photos. I forgot to mention this but as of this morning I was one number away from getting her full band. So close yet so far really. I even called the bird banding office after work, at the 800 # I was given last week, and gave them the partial since I was getting anxious.
I took nearly 100 pics while she was there this afternoon. I had no intention on stopping until she left or I drained my battery which was on it's last bar already. She left.
I raced inside and loaded the pics. How convenient the computer is by the back door, eh. And I browsed the photos, deleted the useless shots, kept some interesting ones of her, and kept zooming in on every pic where the band was visible. I was seeing a lot of the numbers I already had. And my most recent find from yesterday being the word "open" at the band seal along with the #7 below it. I'm about 90% through the pics, thinking I got nothing as the next bunch were seemingly all the same. But luck have it, and maybe her band twisting around her leg, I saw a number I hadn't see before... it was the #3! I was grinning as I stared at the computer.
Here is the #3 shot.
I quickly searched for a bird banding reporting site and entered what I thought her ID # was. Everything was going well until I hit the final submission and got a message. It read something like my report was unusual with reasons being it was a very old band number, and second, it was the band of a Slate-colored Junco. I was like "no !@*#'ing way!" I blamed the bander in my head, accusing this unknown person as entering the wrong bird when they scribed it. After 5 or so minutes of this frustration and accusation, I went back to my photos from today and older pics. I went over every band shot, trying to see if I misread something, if any of the blurry numbers might actually be another number. And there it was, I found a 6 in one where I thought was an 8 previously. I double checked, and then went back to the reporting site and started all over. I hit the final enter and that second wait sure seemed a lot longer.
And here's what I got back...
THE NORTH AMERICAN BIRD BANDING PROGRAM
Bird Banding LaboratoryDear Robert Mueller,
Thank you for reporting Band#: 2221-79263
A confirmation email has been sent to you.
See below the banding information for the reported bird:
|Age||HATCHED IN 2008 OR EARLIER|
|Location||PRINCE EDWARD POINT BIRD OBSERVATORY, PRINCE EDWARD, ONTARIO, CANADA|
How cool is that? She was banded 4 years ago and approximately 260 kms away from here. She's at least 5 years old and to me that means she's a survivor (its tough out there in the wild). Through time and travel she somehow made it to our backyard just over a week ago and is sticking around.
It was a fun mystery for me and I enjoyed sharing the adventure with my friends. I'm just so happy my mission has been accomplished.
She's a special visitor for sure and I will enjoy our visits always.
I'm just adding this about 12 hours since I initially blogged this story. I woke up to an email from the bird banding program which is the U.S. Geological Survey and Canadian Wildlife Service thanking me for my submission, or rather as they put it, reporting my "encounter" with a banded bird. And with it came this printable certificate. How awesome is this?