April 30th – The Dam Bursts….Finally

Grandeur at the edge of day.

The day started off not unlike any other we’ve had for the past week: cold with frost in the low spots and coating some of the nets and poles. My initial thought was: “Oh no, another quiet, birdless day”. Although we were seeing a few birds moving overhead – some really good ones: Great Egret (1st for the year) and Upland Sandpiper (1st for Ruthven) – by the time the class of school kids arrived at 10:00 we hardly had enough for a “show”. But, unbeknownst to us, great forces were at work. The cloud moving in from the West got lower and heavier and a light wind picked up from the East. The next net round turned up a Black-throated Green Warbler singing along the River – so we rushed down and opened the river nets – and Yellow-rumped Warblers on the forest edge. An Eastern Towhee was singing on census (a first for the year). Then Marie-Pier spotted her first ever (and our first for the year) Baltimore Oriole in front of the Mansion; then a Black & White Warbler showed up followed shortly by a Nashville Warbler. And then, just as the rain began to fall lightly, Yellow-rumped Warblers hit the nets and we ended up banding 39 of them taken from just 2 nets: #6 and #8. By the time we had everything closed up we had banded 65 birds and had encountered 65 species – both high totals so far this Spring.

Black-throated Green Warbler - just one of 6 firsts for the year today.

We could get into an involved discussion as to what factors produced this large number of migrants – a front with deteriorating conditions bringing the birds “down”, resulting in a minor “fallout”. But the real reason would seem to be the return of Matt Timpf from Iceland. When he left 10 days ago the birds stopped and the weather turned cold. He returned today and…well, you can see for yourselves. Matt…the Bird Whisperer.

Male Black and White Warbler - P. Thoem

Interestingly net #2, which has been the big “producer” for most of the month, caught very few of today’s birds. The reason is that the American Goldfinches that frequent the feeders nearby were busy foraging on the freshly emerged dandelion heads that seem tohave gone to seed all at the same time. There was a flock of 20 in the parking lot showing no need amongst this bounty to go to the feeders.

A relative rarity: an UNBANDED Hairy Woodpecker

Banded 65:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Hairy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
1 American Robin
1 Nashville Warbler
39 Yellow-rumped Warblers
1 Black-throated Green Warbler
2 Western Palm Warblers
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrows
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
3 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 9:
1 Hairy Woodpecker
2 Tree Swallows
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
1 Field Sparrow
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 65 spp.

Photo Gallery:

Killdeer giving an anxiety display. -P. Thoem

Quiet moment - a White-tailed Deer at the river's edge. -P. Thoem

A Killdeer foraging by the River. -P. Thoem

And here’s a few pictures from Saturday’s Clean-up Day:

Joanne's son, Elliot, a budding ornithologist, releases a goldfinch. -M. Havelka

Clean-up day: Jamie Potter playing hide 'n seek with his dad. - N. Campbell

I've asked the staff not to drop to their knees when I go by but, obviously, to no avail. -M. Halvelka

Joanne Fleet, inspired by her own involvement in the Birdathon (have you all sponsored her or another member of the Dream Team?), ran her own birdathon for the kids in her family’s life – thus exposing them to the joys of birds (and the crass commercialism that goes with it…just kidding). Here’s a picture of the participants and the list they generated:

Participants in the "Kids' Birdathon" arranged by Joanne Fleet. - J. Fleet

The kids' species list - looks like a great start! -J. Fleet

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