Blue Jays are always on the lookout for a tasty tidbit. -CB
These are unprecedented happenings – in my lifetime. A month ago Marg and I had just headed out on a wonderful cruise. Two weeks later we were afraid that we might not even get back to Canada. (What a relief when the wheels of our plane touched down in Canada!!!) Two weeks after this, on April 1st, we opened our 25th Spring banding season hoping that the strict measures we had adopted would keep people safe. Four days after this it became apparent to me that this was….silly. One slip-up could be disastrous. It just wasn’t worth risking lives. So after considerable discussion I’ve decided to close the Spring banding season at Ruthven down until it’s safe to resume (acknowledging that this might not be until the Fall…or later…).
But one thing will continue: this Blog!
In the short run I’ll bring you up to date on the banding results for the past couple of days – I haven’t added to the April 1st post because I was unsure what direction we’d be heading in. But now….I’ll fill you in.
For the foreseeable future I would like to use the blog as a platform for YOU – to post your sightings, pictures and thoughts about the natural world around you. The Corona-virus may be closing down human life but the natural world will continue despite it: the birds are migrating, insects are emerging, and plants are springing up. Let’s observe this marvellous phenomenon….and rejoice. (Email Rick at email@example.com with content). Let me give you an example of how this could work. At the beginning of April we handled 3 Carolina Wrens. This in itself was a pretty neat thing – this is a species that has responded to global warming by extending its range north. (When I was young you would never see these.) At the same time Fred Smith, who lives just across the river and a bit downstream, sent me a photo of a Carolina Wren eating suet (I just posted that one) and then this neat shot of another one at his seed feeder:
Carolina Wren at a seed feeder. -FJS
Now this is pretty interesting because you don’t think of these as “feeder birds”. And this picture underscores how important your feeders might be to local birds:
The brood patch of a female Carolina Wren. -WJA
One of the wrens we caught at the beginning of April was this female. You can tell it’s a female because of the “brood patch” on its belly. Female birds generate this pad of thick, veinous skin when they’re sitting on eggs – it increases heat transfer to the eggs. So this bird, at the beginning of April, was already sitting on a clutch of eggs!! She would need all the energy she could find if her nesting attempt was to be successful.
See….easy. We share observations and pictures and come up with a really neat story.
And now to catch you up with the banding over the last 3 days:
It was like groundhog day… the sun rose, the birds were moving, and the spring peepers were serenading anyone around to hear them and …. Rick was absent, again! It’s unmistakably quiet, aside from the birds and peepers; I’ve yet to decide whether it’s a general lack of people at the lab, or just the absence of Rick’s acerbic wit.
We had 2 unbanded cardinals in nets today and, as with rose-breasted grosbeaks, my blood pressure always rises when I see them in nets. I have yet to find my one of my fingers the victim of their extremely strong bills and I was thinking today, perhaps with my 14 years of experience extracting, I’ve just perfected the art of safe extraction, but then I wonder if perhaps my odds of being bitten just simply increases the more I have to extract and band them…
Two of the 3 Carolina Wrens. -WJA
It was a beautiful day to be banding in the outdoors; it’s quite surprising how much easier it is to read the bands in sunlight! We decided to forego setting up the shelter today as it just takes so much more time to set up and tear down along with all of the disinfecting that we are doing. A special treat today was 3 CARWs all in one net. We tried to get a photo of all 3 of them but between the social distancing and fewer hands all around, we only ended up with a photo of 2. When checking the fat and muscle of the one, we noticed that it looked particularly unusual. See the photo (above) for more details. The number of midges and flying insects is incredible to see, they fly in such large groups that it looks like a billow of smoke. This is great news for the number of tree swallows that have already returned. A few other nice birds were the first banded EABL of the season and a Blue Jay that just happened to have the wind catch his feathers at the perfect angle for the shot you see in the blog. All in all, with just under 50 birds handled, it was a pretty perfect day.
1 Blue Jay
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch -KMP
1 Carolina Wren
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
2 Northern Cardinals
1 American Tree Sparrow
5 Song Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 American Goldfinch
ET’s: 36 spp.
It was a pretty slow day in terms of catching. Lots of bird activity; local males claiming territories, singing, chasing and fighting; migrants up high flying over; but not much around the nets.
1 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Brown Creepers
Cryptic bark gleaners: Brown Creeper. -CL
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed junco
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
2 American Goldfinches
ET’s: 38 spp.
We had PERFECT netting conditions today: overcast and windless. The only thing missing was the birds.
1 Northern Cardinal
2 American Tree Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
4 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 American Goldfinches
ET’s: 38 spp.
This male Eastern Bluebird and his mate have been checking out the nesting boxes around the parking lot….and trying to fend off the Tree Swallows who aren’t in to sharing. -KMP
Female Eastern Bluebird checking out a box. -KMP
Although a flycatcher, Eastern Phoebes are an early returnee – taking a chance that there will be flies to catch. -KMP
Red-breasted Nuthatches just have that “perky” look about them. -KMP
The black on the head tells you this Red-breasted Nuthatch is a male. -KMP
Bright male American Robin foraging in a wet area. -CB
Male Eastern Bluebird. -NRF
The O’Neils…..the family that bands together stays together. -DO
Eila with a somewhat annoyed White-breasted Nuthatch. -DO
Nola obviously enjoying releasing a bird. -DO
Karen’s Kreeping Korner:
Gray Comma enjoying the warm sun. -W. Fraleigh
Mourning Cloak – one of our earliest emerging butterflies. -W. Fraleigh (henceforth WF)