Happy Songbird Sunday!

Here is one of North America’s smallest birds — a Ruby-crowned Kinglet — from yesterday’s walk on Belle Isle:

According to Audubon Guides, they aren’t very long-distance migrants; they mostly winter in the United States, Mexico, and some of Central America  I couldn’t see if it had a band on it or not.  (If only that grape leaf wasn’t in the way in the first picture…)

Speaking of banded Ruby-crowned Kinglets, did you know Ruby-crowned Kinglets have one of the lowest, if not the lowest, encounter rates (to encounter, in this context, means to observe an already-banded bird, dead or alive) of any songbird banded in North America? (At least according to the Rouge River Bird Observatory and the Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding; according to RRBO, the US has no similar publication). From the Rouge River Bird Observatory (the wonderful local banding lab that was lucky enough to recapture a RCKI):

Between 1921 and 1995, with over 48,000 [Ruby-crowned Kinglets] banded in Canada between 1955-1995 alone, the number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets encountered was only ten.  The Atlas noted this is one of the lowest encounter rates of any species.

She also points out that Kinglets weigh only 6 or 7 grams, which is “the same weight as an American nickel and a dime”. Because of their size, there were no properly-fitting bands for Kinglets before 1993, and that a lot of bird banders before that time would just let them go without banding them.

Check out RRBO’s tales of other recovered birds here.

Here’s another banding lab’s page on Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which features some nice pictures of their plumage (including photos of the ruby crown).

If you are interested in seeing tallies of birds banded/encountered per year, go play around on the USGS Bird Banding Lab Website here. Go to Banding Data >> Data Summaries to search for different species. (According to the USGS database: 378,49294 Kinglets have been banded since 1960; 94 were encountered, giving you a 0.025% encounter rate. Compare that to 0.026% of Golden-crowned Kinglets; 0.26% encounter rate of Gray Catbirds or 0.87% for American Robins– those one seems to be magnitudes higher… Did I use the word magnitude right? These %s are only taking into account data from the USGS database; I didn’t take into account data from the Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding.)

(Note to self: I went to look up Yellow-rumped Warblers in the USGS’s data summary database, but can’t seem to find them in the drop-down menu… am I just missing it for some reason?)

I will wish this little Kinglet happy travels!


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