April 1st – Off and Running!

An early-returning Field Sparrow.

Usually on April 1st (under the guise of April Fool’s Day) I churn out some balogna about some neat birds in order to drum up some interest during a period that is often pretty dull bird-wise at Ruthven. But today I don’t have to come up with any balogna as we had a couple of interesting birds about. The ‘best’ one was a bright, loudly-singing Pine Warbler. This bird offered great views as it foraged in the treetops along the River Trail. And just downriver from it I chanced into our first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the year. A great start to our 17th Spring migration monitoring season (which will run from April 1st to May 31st).

Carol and Elisabeth processing some the morning's catch.

The first two weeks of April are also quite often marked, banding-wise, by inactivity. But not today! Despite running only 5 net lanes, and these for only 4 hours because the forecast rain showed up, and setting out some traps, we handled 72 birds, banding 45 and processing 27 retraps. A big surprise was a flock of 11 Golden-crowned Kinglets caught all at the same time in Net 5 and all within 2 meters of each other. They “hit” just before the rain did forcing me to close up. The kinglets were all in very good shape carrying fat loads ranging from 3 to 5. [Our fat ‘scoring’ ranges from 0, indicating no fat, to 6 indicating a bird that is carrying so much that it weighs almost twice its “fat-free” weight.]

Brown flecking on the body and an orange epaulette indicate a second-year male Red-winged Blackbird.

The areas around the feeders were very busy. The birds were taking full advantage of the copious food to give them some protection from the rain/sleet and cold wind.

Banded 45:
4 Mourning Doves
13 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
5 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 House Finch
14 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 27:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 American Tree Sparrows
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
17 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 35 spp.

Virginia Bluebells push there way up through the snow.

Many racoons in the region are suffering from distemper - like this one, seen along the River Trail.

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