April 2nd – 7th – Catching Up

I must confess that I felt more than a little guilty lolly-gagging about Trinidad & Tobago, soaking up the 30+ degree temperatures, snorkelling amidst schools of thousands of little fish, watching giant leatherback turtles lay their eggs on sandy beaches, identifying more than 50 “lifers”, and drinking my share of rum. But not that guilty. Because I knew that the banding program, with Nancy and Matt, was in good and very capable hands.

The blog has been “down” for technical reasons as we make some significant changes….that only Jeff MacLeod can tell you about (I’m just the front man). But it’s up and running again so today I’ll try to catch you up with the news from last week (the bad weather week). And tomorrow I’ll catch you up on what’s been happening so far this week. [But just as a sneak preview: yesterday (April 8th) we had 3 “firsts” for the year – Northern Flicker, Winter Wren and Fox Sparrow – and today we had 5 new ones – American Wigeon, Purple Martin(!!!), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Field Sparrow, and Swamp Sparrow. I can’t say for sure, but my hunch is that the 2 martins that showed up were “ours” – they’re early and they came right to the boxes/gourds and were checking them out. And….they returnedj on the same date as they did last year!]

But….back to last week:

April 2nd – April Snow-squalls Bring….

The first Golden-crowned Kinglet for the spring

One of the first Golden-crowned Kinglets.

One of the first Golden-crowned Kinglets.

We’re hoping that the weather will moderate and the warmth of spring will soon permeate the day’s temperatures. Still waiting for warm, spring showers that will replace the snow squalls that persisted for another day. Nets were opened and before the wind increased we were catching birds earlier in the morning. New birds that were banded for the spring season included a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Red-winged Blackbird, and an American Robin. Larger number of Song Sparrows were evident but the flocks of Tree Swallows feeding along the river were lower in numbers today.
Older male Red-winged Blackbird
ASY Male Red-winged Blackbird

ASY Male Red-winged Blackbird

Banded 37:1 Downy Woodpecker
5 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Tree Sparrow
7 Song Sparrow
5 Slate- colored Junco
1 Red-winged Blackbird
12 American Goldfinch
2 Common Redpoll

Retrapped 35
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
3 Downy Woodpecker
10 Black-capped Chickadee
6 American Tree Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
2 Slate-colored Junco
7 American Goldfinch
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
4 Common Redpoll

ET’s: 30 spp.

April 3rd
It was another chilly spring day with occasional snow flurries.
We processed 69 birds today, with the majority of them being re-captures. The banding highlight was re-capturing a few birds that were originally banded in 2009 (an American Goldfinch & Song Sparrow), as well as a Common Redpoll that may be a foreign re-capture.
Despite the chilly conditions, there were still quite a few birds to be seen on the grounds. Highlights from the census (thanks Peter!) included all 3 merganser species, as well as Wood Ducks and 3 Great Blue Herons.
There were also some landbirds around, including a single Tree Swallow, Eastern Phoebe, and Brown Creeper as well as a few Golden-crowned Kinglets. Song Sparrows continue to trickle in, making the dawn chorus all the more enjoyable.
With warmer weather on the way, hopefully more northbound migrants will pour in!
Banded Birds = 24
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1
Slate-coloured Junco – 10
American Tree Sparrow – 2
Song Sparrow – 3
American Goldfinch – 8

Re-captured Birds = 45
Mourning Dove – 1
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 2
Blue Jay – 1
Northern Cardinal – 1
Slate-coloured Junco – 4
American Tree Sparrow – 1
Song Sparrow – 2
American Goldfinch – 19
Common Redpoll – 13

Daily Estimated Total = 37 species
Spring Season Banding Total = 64
Year to Date Banding Total = 515

Photograph 1: Snow! A view from the banding lab (Photo: Peter Thoem)
Photograph 2: Matt & Nancy, some of the days banding team (Photo: Joanne Fleet)
Photograph 3: Common Redpoll…but where was it originally banded? (Photo: Matt Timpf)

A late Winter blast.          -P. Thoem

A late Winter blast. -P. Thoem

Matt & Nancy hard at work.    -J. Fleet
Common Redpolls are thinning but still a marked presence.      -M. Timpf

Common Redpolls are thinning but still a marked presence. -M. Timpf


April 4th
It was a brisk but sunny start to the day, with increasing southerly winds throughout the morning. As a result, by closing time there were a lot of insects flying around, and several frogs croaking from seasonal wet areas.
The banding lab processed 66 birds today, once again being dominated by recaptures.
Birding highlights included many (20+) Tree Swallows foraging on the abundant insect life over the river & meadow. In the woods it was nice to hear a Brown Creeper singing away. With the warmer weather today, hopefully some short-distance migrants will move into the area tomorrow.
The Common Redpoll reported as a foreign recapture yesterday was originally banded a few miles away by another local bander!
New Birds = 23
Mourning Dove – 1
American Robin – 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 4
Northern Cardinal – 2
Slate-coloured Junco – 2
American Tree Sparrow – 4
Song Sparrow – 1
American Goldfinch – 5
Common Redpoll – 1
Recaptured Birds = 43
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1
Blue Jay – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 9
Northern Cardinal – 1
Slate-coloured Junco – 3
Song Sparrow – 5
American Goldfinch – 9
Common Redpoll – 14
Daily Estimated Species Total = 35
Season Banding Total = 87
Year to Date Banding Total = 538

Photo 1: Recaptured female Red-bellied Woodpecker (Photo credit – Matt Timpf)
Photo 2: The “red-belly” of the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Photo credit – Matt Timpf)

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker.

How the Red-bellied Woodpecker got its name.

How the Red-bellied Woodpecker got its name.


Ruthven Banding Update – April 5, 2013: Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada…
It was a very nice sunny (and slightly warmer) day. Despite my hopes for lot’s of new overnight arrivals, it was actually pretty quiet.
The birding highlight was a single BARN SWALLOW flying over the meadow with a large group of Tree Swallows.
It was also nice to hear a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW singing away in the woodlot, which we later banded.

New Birds = 23
Black-capped Chickadee – 2
American Robin – 1
American Tree Sparrow – 3
Slate-coloured Junco – 6
White-throated Sparrow – 1
Song Sparrow – 4
Northern Cardinal – 1
House Finch – 1
American Goldfinch – 4

Recaptures = 35Hairy Woodpecker – 1
White-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 1
Eastern Tufted Titmouse – 1
American Tree Sparrow – 3
Slate-coloured Junco – 1
Song Sparrow – 3
American Goldfinch – 15
Common Redpoll – 9
Daily ET = 39 species
STD = 110
YTD = 561

Photo 1 : Female Northern Cardinal – “You looking at me?” (Photo Credit – Matt Timpf)
Photo 2: White-throated Sparrow – Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada (Photo Credit – Matt Timpf)

Female Northern Cardinal.....with Attitude.

Female Northern Cardinal…..with Attitude.

White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow.

April 06 and 07 – A Smidgen of Frogs

The Chorus Frogs were singing this weekend!. You could hear them, but very few people ever see them. They are the vernal choristers that respond to the first warm days as spring moves northward. They sing both day and night, in or near shallow, often temporary pools of water. Listen for them at Ruthven the next time you visit.

It was a frosty morning to start the day on Saturday, April 6th. Nets were coaxed open and the sun’s warmth combined with light winds gave way to a beautiful morning. With the day’s warmth, there were clouds of midges everywhere. If your mouth was opened at any time you ended up with some extra protein from swallowing a few (or choking on them)!

It was a different morning on Sunday, April 7th with the double digit temperatures, high winds, and threatening showers to start the day. Only ground traps were used; too windy to open the nets. A group of us dodged the showers to walk the census route where we saw two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers that were new for the season. Tree Swallows were feeding along the river but a number of them were observed inland as well.

April 0632 Banded 25 Retrap
2 Mourning Dove 1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Black-capped Chickadee 1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 American Tree Sparrow 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
6 Song Sparrow 2 American Tree Sparrow
11 Slate-coloured Junco 3 Song Sparrow
8 American Goldfinch 1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Common Redpoll 1 House Finch
7 American Goldfinchá
8 Common Redpoll

ET’s – 32 spp

April 074 Banded 10 Retrap
1 American Tree Sparrow 2 American Tree Sparrow
1 House Finch 7 American Goldfinch
2 American Goldfinch 1 Common Redpoll

ET’s – 33 spp

Photo Gallery (thanks to Bob Fotheringham):

Turkey Vultures     B. Fotheringham

Turkey Vultures B. Fotheringham

Common Redpoll       -B Fotheringham

Common Redpoll -B Fotheringham

Belted Kingfisher     -B. Fotheringham

Belted Kingfisher -B. Fotheringham

Hooded Mergansers.

Hooded Mergansers.

Merganser taking flight.

Merganser taking flight.


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