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March 1933Volume 7, Number 12


By Edwin D. McKee, Park Naturalist

LAST YEAR it was a robin with a peculiar white patch on its back, this year a robin with a broken wing. These are birds so marked that they have become known at Grand Canyon village. Everybody can recognize them. Everybody is interested in watching their movements from place to place and their activities from day to day. There is involved a personal element that does not exist in the study or observation of birds in general.

Soon we will be able to know much of the life history of nearly all our resident birds and something about the spring and fall visitors besides. We have started banding birds at Grand Canyon following the example set by the Museum of Northern Arizona at Flagstaff. Already, since October 16th, some 540 little numbered metal bands, supplied by the United States Biological Survey, have been placed on either the right or left legs of as many birds.

A series of four substations has been started in the Park to carry on the work of trapping and banding birds. Two are located among the pines at Grand Canyon village, one on top of the hill and the other part way down. A third substation is on the rim of Grand Canyon at Yavapai Point, a mile and a half east of the village, and the fourth is at Indian Gardens, over three thousand feet down in the Canyon. Plans are now being made to start still another station as soon as possible - this one to be on the North Rim.

Most of the birds that have been banded so far have been caught in small, two compartment, drop-door traps of the type illustrated, however, one large Government Sparrow Trap with a funnel shaped entrance has lately been put into use. At each of the substations individual problems concerning the trapping have come up and part of the interest has been in solving these. Sometimes it is the matter of a good location for particular kinds of birds, sometimes it is the type of bait. The writer can scarcely attempt to go into the many and varied problems at this time.

To date eleven species of birds (see list page 123) have been inveigled into our traps by one method or another. I say "inveigled" with reservations, however, since certain individuals such as Chickadee c-119759 at Yavapai and several of the Pigmy Nuthatches at the village can scarcely be kept out.

Many of the birds "repeat" one or more times so that gradually information concerning the various individuals is being accumulated. It is too early yet to draw any conclusions from these data, however, their value is apparent, frequently birds banded at one of the village substations reappear at the other. Also one Red-backed Junco banded at Yavapai was retaken two months later at the village, while one Shufeldt Junco of the town arrived at the Yavapai suburb some three days after having been banded.

All of the bluebirds, the cedar waxwings, and the robin have been caught in traps set over water which is a great attraction in this semi-arid region. The juncos were caught with cracked corn and the rest of the birds with pinyon nuts. Probably the most noteworthy captures to date have been the Pigmy Nuthatches - 73 in number. According to the Biological Survey report only four of this species were banded all last year and a total of only 47 since the beginning of 1924.

Bluebirds, Chestnut-backed82
Chickadee, Mountain34
Jay, Long-crested1
Jay, Woodhouse1
Junco, Red-backed132
Junco, Shufeldt192
Nuthatch, Pigmy73
Nuthatch, Rocky Mountain13
Robin, Western1
Titmouse, Grey9
Waxwing, Cedar2

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