April 27th – Still Waiting

The Mansion at first light.

There’s not really much to write about – we’re still in a holding pattern with cold northerly winds holding up the influx of long-distance migrants that we’ve been expecting. Interestingly, while we had very early arrivals of many short-distance migrants due to the unseasonably warm Winter/early Spring, expected long-distance migrants such as Yellow Warbler and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are late. Still, we managed to dig up 53 species before the end of the day, including the first Bobolink of the year.

As we handled only 15 birds, banding 6 (at the abyssmal rate of 2 birds per 100 net hours!) and retrapping 9, today’s blog will focus on a hodge-podge of things:

Dream Team member Joanne Fleet getting ready for the Birdathon.

This is a bald-faced advertisement for the Baillie Birdathon which is coming up around May 12th (weather depending). Of the monies earned by Ruthven’s “Dream Team”, 75% of it will go to Haldimand Bird Observatory and then back to Ruthven. [Ruthven is one of the two co-founding banding stations of the HBO.] Banding stations just don’t exist in a vacuum…they require funding, none of which comes from governmental sources. So any monies you can send our way through the Birdathon will be greatly appreciated (and put to very good use!). It’s easy to do: just follow the instructions on the sidebar.

And Joanne, a teacher through and through, sent on this poem to upgrade the quality of this blog….

You Can’t Get There from Here
by Ogden Nash

Bird watchers top my honors list.
I aimed to be one, but I missed.
Since I’m both myopic and astigmatic,
My aim turned out to be erratic,
And I, bespectacled and binocular
Exposed myself to comment jocular.
We don’t need too much birdlore, do we,
To tell a flamingo from a towhee;
Yet I cannot, and never will,
Unless the silly birds stand still.
And there’s no enlightenment in a tour
Of ornithological literature.
Is yon strange creature a common chickadee,
Or a migrant alouette from Picardy?
You can rush to consult your Nature guide
And inspect the gallery inside,
But a bird in the open never looks
Like its picture in the birdie books-
Or if it once did, it has changed its plumage,
And plunges you back into ignorant gloomage.
That is why I sit here growing old by inches,
Watching a clock instead of finches,
But I sometimes visualize in my gin
The Audubon that I audubin.

Marie-Pier with her first banded bird - a Western Palm Warbler.

As many of you know, we pursue a “teaching philosophy” at Ruthven – we’re interested in helping people learn about birds and banding. Marie-Pier Laplante is visiting from Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, for 5 weeks to do just that. Her being here is a good example of networking: some of you may remember Marylene Boulet from 10(?) years ago. Marylene came out to the lab to learn how to band for her PhD project (studying Yellow Warblers in Mexico). She went on to a)become my first banding sub-permitee; b)get her PhD; and c) become a professor at Bishop’s. There she steered Marie-Pier in our direction. Today M-P banded her first bird – a Western Palm Warbler. What a nice way to start!

Due to the shortage of birds but the surplus of helpers, I was able to walk the trails, ostensibly looking for elusive migrants but, in reality, just taking in the beauty of the forest. Here are some of the wildflowers I found on my walks:

Virginia Bluebells

Wild Violets

Canada Anemone

As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, the best time of the day is the half hour just after opening the nets when you can sit and enjoy the dawn and the chorus that comes with it. We had a particularly brilliant sunrise this morning with the sun peeking under a gray cloud ceiling, coating everything with gold. And right on cue 4 Common Loons flew over, their bellies flashing golden in the sun.

Burnished by the dawn.

Banded 6:
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Western Palm Warbler
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 9:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Field Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 53 spp.

2 thoughts on “April 27th – Still Waiting

  1. Those Rose-breasted Grosbeaks you’ve been waiting for showed up in Nova Scotia this week. Seems they, along with some Indigo Buntings, rode a storm to our shores. They’re not nearly as common here as there, though, so I guess they may not stay.

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