March 29 -- Large flocks of rosy-finches at Taos Ski Valley
I just received this e-mail from Gil Bachmann, General Manager of the Kandahar Condominiums in Taos Ski Valley. They started feeding the rosy-finches there before the Sandia Crest feeding project began in 1999. The birds usually depart later from TSV, although, interestingly, they appear later as well. Above are photos that Gil took in 2008. Gil writes:
Just want to touch base with you about the Rosey Finches. They're still here in great numbers as they were last year, 400 or more. To give you an idea of the size of the flock........I use a large Folgers coffee container to spread sunflower seeds on our balcony just outside the office windows.
It takes the finches only 5 minutes to devour the entire amount. And what a sight that is! The finches tend to gather at the edge of the roof overhanging the deck where we feed them. When they drop down to the deck to feed, it looks like a waterfall of birds flowing off the edge of the roof.
There's a tall pine tree nearby that they take refuge in when the pesky squirrel startles them. Flying back and forth from the tree to the balcony, they create a constant flurry of activity when they feed. And seeing the entire flock flying back and forth in the narrow valley where we're situated, at 9000 feet, is quite amazing!
We're still getting temperatures in the teens in the morning, and snow! Nine inches in the last 5 days, and 36 inches prior to that!
I'll try to let you know when the flock heads north.
I have not noticed any banded finches here in Taos Ski Valley, although I hadn't been specifically looking for the bands. Yesterday and today I specifically looked for bands and saw none. The whole flock is still here. I'll keep you posted.
You may be hosting an entirely different population from that at Sandia Crest. I believe that the banding team is studying site fidelity and may have some findings, which I hope to share. My guess, based upon the very high percentage of bands on the Sandia Crest birds, is that they hang together all winter, once they find a good spot with plenty of food.