April 13th – Lucky Friday the 13th!

A 1st ever for Ruthven - a Black Vulture. - P. Thoem

Unless you could appreciate the beauty of a cold, starry sky, a brilliant half-moon, and a heavy frost at the edge of the day, you might have thought that this wasn’t going to be a very lucky one. We had to wait about an hour and a half for the poles and nets to defrost before we could open them. Even then, you wouldn’t say the day’s catch of Amercian Goldfinches and Brown-headed Cowbirds was all that lucky – more run of the mill by far. But I guess the 7 Common Loons that went over early (one so early that it appeared golden pink in the sunrise) should have been a sign. It really wasn’t until the sun was well up in the sky and the thermals were rising off the heating earth that it got interesting. We were watching and counting Turkey Vultures and trying to figure out (as we do every day) whether these were “new” birds or whether they were birds we’d already counted and which had circled around again. (For the uninitiated, Turkey Vultures like to play a game whereby they circle around low below the trees and re-emerge where they had first been seen in order to see who can be counted the most.) But then Matt, gesticulating wildly, called out “BLACK VULTURE!!!!” and the banding lab emptied. And, lo and behold, there it was circling just overhead. And then, almost on cue, it was joined in a tight circle by a Turkey Vulture, which offered a wonderful comparison. We had “crippling views” of the bird for about 5 minutes before it gained great height in a thermal and then coasted off to the west. A few of these southern birds have been seen wintering around Niagara Falls and a couple have been seen by the hawk watching crew at Grimsby Peak. But this was an historic first sighting for Ruthven.

An adult Bald Eagel - now a common visitor to Ruthven. - R. Mueller

Trying not to be outdone, a magnificent adult Bald Eagle soared over within 5 minutes of the Black Vulture. We have been seeing an adult or immature Bald Eagle almost every day since the 1st.

Our resident Eastern Screech Owl enjoying the sun. - R. Mueller

Not all the interesting bird sightings were high overhead, however. For quite a few years now, we’ve had an Eastern Screech Owl nesting in one of our Wood Duck boxes. Today the bird took advantage of the hot sun to have a nap at the entrance to the box – making for a great photo shoot.

Almost lost in the excitement was the sighting of the first Barn Swallow of the year.

Photos of today’s notables were taken by Peter Thoem and Rob Mueller, both of whom have very readable and interesting blogs.

Banded 28:
1 Mourning Dove
2 Tree Swallows
3 Field Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
12 Brown-headed Cowbirds
7 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 17:
1 Mourning Dove
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Field Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
3 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 45 spp.

1 thought on “April 13th – Lucky Friday the 13th!

  1. Aww, now I see the difference with the vultures! We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.

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