April 16th – The Day Just Had That Feel


Lucia, who has been working on Corn Crakes and Bluethroats in Slovakia, with the Swamp Sparrow

The day just had that feel to it, right from the get go – that things were on the move. It was warm (15 degrees) and the wind, out of the SW, was already blowing substantially at opening time. [We opened all the nets but closed some shortly after seeing how much the wind was billowing them.]
I should have known that something was up when I had to pick a June Bug, yes a June Bug in the middle of April(!), out of net 2 so I could open it.

First Swamp Sparrow of the year.

A House Wren - 10 days earlier than last year.

Loretta, just back from 2 months birding the southern States, with a House Wren.

The sky was largely cloudy at first but the winds pushed most of them out of the way by mid-morning and it got hot. Some birds were taking advantage of the southerly flow: Common Loons and Double-crested Cormorants went shooting across the sky in their northward flight. If we hadn’t been sitting at the picnic table expressly looking for them, we would have missed them altogether as they were only observable for a brief moment on their trip from one horizon to the other. Some birds had most likely taken advantage of the wind during the night. We banded our first House Wren and Swamp Sparrow; saw our first Caspian Terns of the year; saw the first Broad-winged Hawk; and picked up another first for Ruthven – a flock of 7 Lapland Longspurs went over. Our Purple Martin “colony” has grown to 6 birds. And for the first time this year we hit the ’50’ mark in terms of species encountered for the day.

Our first Caspian Tern of the year - one of three. - P. Thoem

One of the hundreds of Red Admirals that went through Ruthven today, getting sustenance from Dandelions.

But probably the most significant event was a massive movement of Red Admiral butterflies throughout the morning. They were everywhere and constantly going by, headed north. Some were low down and would stop in the lee of anything that offered reprieve from the wind and others were way up there and taking full advantage of the strong winds to cover many kilometers. Some of the butterflies low down were heavily attracted to the dandelions on the property which they went over carefully looking for pollen (I think). Just another in a whole long list of why you should maintain this beautiful flower in your lawns. If I had to put a number on them I would say they totalled in the hundreds at Ruthven alone. And from what I hear, they were moving in many parts of southern Ontario.

The next couple of days should be interesting as I think there will be a considerable bird movment behind this cold front.

Banded 19:
1 Mourning Dove
1 House Wren
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
3 Chipping Sparrows
3 Field Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrows
1 Red-winged Blackbird
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 9:
1 Tree Swallow
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Tree Sparrow (this bird has been caught over 20 times since February 8th – in ground traps)
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 50 spp.

Three-quarters of the Ruthven Baillie Birdathon "Dream Team" - Joanne, Matt, and Peter.

Introducing the Ruthven Dream Team. In order to raise funds to support Ruthven’s banding program, 4 people have banded together to form a team for the Baillie Birdathon. The Baillie Birdathon is sponsored and run by Bird Studies Canada to raise funds for bird research. Individuals or teams get sponsors to support them for a flat fee or (more fun) for so much money per species. Since Ruthven is part of the Haldimand Bird Observatory (HBO), a Canadian Migration Monitoring Station, 75% of the funds raised will go to HBO and thence to Ruthven. Our Dream Team consists of Peter Thoem, Matt Timpf, Joanne Fleet, and Ben Oldfield. It is, thus, a mix of young and old, male and female, experienced birders and novice birders – but ALL KEENERS! See the Ruthven website to see how to lend your monetary support.


1 thought on “April 16th – The Day Just Had That Feel

  1. Rob and I are birding for the Ballie Birdathon this year too! We have a team with Jim and Lynda. Good luck! 🙂

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