April 15th – A Mobbing Event

The "culprit" - a gray phase Eastern Screech Owl.

The Minnesota Birdnerd was reporting that there was a heavy movement of migrants following behind the strong southerly winds in the central states. Given the tornadoes they’ve just experienced out there…again…these birds would be storm chasers. They haven’t reached Ruthven yet though. I opened nets first thing but closed early when the very light drizzle turned to steady rain, around 9:00. There were some migrants around – kinglets, Myrtle Warblers, Hermit Thrush – but nothing to write home about so to speak.

It’s not that often that you get to witness a mobbing event but we saw one this morning. We headed out on the census route, going along the gravel road back toward the entrance. Just before the road bends to go down to the highway, we heard a very agitated male Eastern Bluebird chattering away in the underbrush and jumping about from perch to perch. I think the bluebird had just come upon the predator as it was the only one at that point. But it was very quickly joined by a pair of robins, a pair of titmice (very angry titmice), several chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches, and even a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets came in to take a look. But we couldn’t find the source of their agitation. And then Carol “Hawkeye” Jones (evidently related distantly to Indiana) spotted a gray phase Eastern Screech Owl hunkered down about a meter off the ground in a shrub. It did not appear to be bothered by the cacophony around it one little bit. It just sat there stoically with its eyes closed. It was still there an hour and a half later when I returned with my camera. The harassing birds were gone though and the woods had reverted to calm watching.

Banded 13:
1 Blue Jay
1 Brown Creeper
3 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Common Grackle
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 7:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 American Robin
1 Song Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 House Finch
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 39 spp.

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