April 8th – Trickling Through

Male Eastern Towhee – an uncommon visitor. -DOL

We had some heavy rain out here last night followed by a fairly strong (and strengthening) SW wind. This likely put a damper n migration but….birds were still on the move. We continued to get Golden-crowned Kinglets (all but one of them males), the first Hermit Thrushes of the year, and an Eastern Towhee. I have a particular liking for towhees. My Dad gave me a Peterson guide when I was just a little guy and it was the very first bird I identified using it. I was amazed that not only did the bird look like its picture but it behaved just the way the book said it would: scratching away forest leaf litter looking for tasty morsels. I knew then that there was something to this book…..

The last Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (2005) indicated a decline in the towhee population of around 18% in Ontario. The species nests in edge and early successional habitat and there has been a noted loss of this habitat in southern Ontario largely due to urbanization and intensive farming practices in Carolinian parts of the province and maturation of successional forest growth in other areas. We have never caught many Towhees at Ruthven – only 14 over the past 24 years (8 in Spring and 6 in the Fall) – so it’s always a treat when we do!

For you Snow Bunting aficionados: Julie Bauer in the Yukon, who had such a banner banding season last year, reports that this year bunting banding is a write-off due to a lack of snow. But Bruce Murphy in New Liskeard, Ontario is still catching them – he banded 178 today (a new record for him) bringing his total to 920, most of them caught after March 21st. We haven’t seen a Snow Bunting for over a month……

Banded 17:
8 Golden-crowned Kinglets

A [somewhat blurry – sorry!] picture of the first Hermit Thrush of the year. -DOL

2 Hermit Thrushes
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Eastern Towhee
1 American Tree Sparrow
3 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco

ET’s: 46 spp.

Leave a Reply