May 30th – The End?

Hey! What’s goin’ on? -KMP

Is the migration over? They say nothing’s over till the fat lady sings…. She wasn’t singing today but you could hear her humming in the background. Almost all the migrants that breed further north have passed through and the migrants that intended to nest here are…here and well into nest building and about to lay eggs (if they haven’t already started).

The Baltimore Orioles didn’t waste any time on their return but got right into the business of reproducing. This brand new nest is ready to go. -KMP

As is usual at this time of year, the banding numbers have dropped off and the species variety has declined (although we’re still catching some neat birds and our species count today was a respectable 61).

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the Killdeer eggs hatched and the parents spent a couple of days ushering the four chicks around the parking lot. Yesterday morning I watched as the parents began to move them down to the river – a time fraught with danger and anxiety (the latter for me especially). In the past the adults have (wisely to my way of thinking) lead them via the meadow trails and then the banding lanes at Net 8 and the owl lanes to the river. This year they chose a curious route: through the long grasses and shrubs between nets 4 and 4C down to the stream, Rick’s Rill. I think they would follow the stream down to the Grand. This is NOT a good route as they would be very visible to the many predators along the way: racoons, mink, raptors, crows, jays. Also, the stream is not clear-flowing – it is often blocked by tree debris. So this morning when two adult Killdeer returned to the parking lot I wondered if these were the parents about to try again….

Two Killdeer returned to the parking lot this morning. Are they “new” or does this signal that their young ones didn’t survive the journey to the river? -RD

On a more positive note, the Purple Martin colony seems to be catching on. We counted 19 birds there just the other day and there were at least 16 this morning. They are building nests. This is interesting in itself: the birds fly SW from the colony and then return some time later from that direction carrying nesting material. I would love to know where (and how far) they’re going to get this.

After some very anxious moments in the cold days of April and early May when we wondered if the Purple Martin colony would return, it is gratifying to count somewhere between 16 and 20 individuals now most of which are busy gathering nesting material. -HV

We were able to confirm the presence of both cuckoo species at Ruthven this morning:

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – note the reddish wing panel. -KMP

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Another good distinguishing mark is the large white spots in the tail. -RD

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo’s reddish wing panel can be seen as a good distance and is a great distinguishing mark. -KMP

Black-billed Cuckoo; note the drab brown wings compared to a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. -KMP

Banded 25:
1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo
2 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers
2 Traill’s Flycatchers
1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 House Wren
3 Gray Catbirds
8 Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings have returned en masse in just the last several days. Our count of 50 today was quite likely too low. -KMP

2 Red-eyed Vireos

Red-eyed Vireo letting me know his displeasure….. -HV

1 American Redstart
1 Indigo Bunting
1 Song Sparrow
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 61 spp.
Other Photos:

Turkey Vulture. -RD

Warbling Vireo; quite a nondescript bird but a marvellous singer. -RD

Female Baltimore Oriole. -RD

Eastern Wood-pewee singing (and hawking insects) from the understory. -KMP


May 28th – Drawing Down

Killdeer chick. A happy result of Covid-19 – the parking lot where the adult had her nest was little bothered by traffic. -HV

It’s feeling like Summer: heat and almost no new migrants moving through. I had to work hard to squeeze the 14 birds out of the bushes for banding. To make up for this lack, Yellow-billed Cuckoos flitted about the site giving us good views every now and again. And Red-eyed Vireos and Eastern Wood-pewees are calling now in good numbers – another sign that Summer is here.

One of at least four Yellow-billed Cuckoos that were around the site this morning. -HV

Banded 14:
2 Traill’s Flycatchers
2 Gray Catbirds
4 Red-eyed Vireos

We’ve been getting Red-eyed Vireos in just the past few days. -HV

3 Yellow Warblers
1 Indigo Bunting

Brilliant male Indigo Bunting. -HV

1 Song Sparrow
1 Baltimore Oriole (pushing the record to 121)

ET’s: 55 spp.

Anxious parent with one of four chicks. -HV

Check local hayfields to find Bobolinks. -MMG

A young (SY) male Common Yellowthroat signalling his territory limits. -HV


May 27th – New Record!

Male Baltimore Oriole taking advantage of flowering trees. -MMG

This female Baltimore Oriole is gathering dandelion ‘fluff’ for her nest lining. -MMG

Records are made to be broken….so it’s said. But after banding 117 Baltimore Orioles last year, 66 more than we had ever banded before n a single season, I thought that record was pretty safe. Sort of like Wayne Gretzky’s hockey scoring records. But as of yesterday we were actually tied. Surprisingly there wasn’t much action at the oriole jam feeder this morning; the birds are getting down to the serious stuff – building nests and raising young, the reason they make the long trek from Central America in the first place. By closing time we hadn’t caught a “new” (i.e., unbanded) oriole. When we went to close nets 1 & 1A we found 3! This pushed the record to 120!

SY-Male Baltimore Oriole – breaking the banding record of 117 set last year – this is #118. -DOL

This SY-Female extended the BAOR banding record to 120! -DOL

Otherwise it was a pretty bland, one might almost say boring, morning with net rounds carried out in ever-increasing heat. The one BIG surprise was the Great Egret that Liam saw when doing census. It was flying south down the river.

Banded 19:
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 Traill’s flycatcher
1 House Wren
1 Gray Catbird
1 Cedar Waxwing

Black chin and wide yellow terminal tail band indicate that this Cedar Waxwing is a male. -MMG

1 Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo. -MMG

3 Yellow Warblers
6 Indigo Buntings
1 Song Sparrow
3 Baltimore Orioles

ET’s: 52 spp.
Other Pictures:

American Robin on sumac – a good food source during hard times. -MMG

Black-capped Chickadees at Ruthven have become very quiet and hard to find – must be sitting on eggs. -MMG

Although we banded only 1 Cedar Waxwing today we counted at least 90 – they are arriving back in swarms. -MMG

Mallard ducklings – the same ones on the blog from a couple of weeks ago. They’re growing fast. -MMG


May 26th – What Happened To Spring?!

It seemed to take forever before we got “seasonable” Spring weather. During those few days the long-distance migrants we had so anxiously been awaiting blew through. And here we are: right in the middle of Summer temperatures. What was the high today? 32? 37 with the humidex? Yikes!

Opening the nets before dawn has been pleasant – nice temperatures, stars high overhead and the start-up of the “dawn chorus”. It’s fun to try to pick out (and count) all the various species as they come alive with the coming sun and want to make their presence felt. And then POW! – the sun clears the horizon and all hell breaks out with birds chasing each other to declare who owns what territory and to dominate particular mates. By 8:00 o’clock you can feel the heat. The chasing doesn’t slow down….but the net rounds seem to. By closing time (around 11:00) the heat is hard to bear and you’re sweating like crazy (I was going to say like a fat pig but thought that might be somewhat…..offensive to some).

Most long-distance migrants that are going further north have already done so. There are still a few stragglers but the vast majority is well north of us. But migrants that will breed in the area – or will try to breed in the area are still arriving in good numbers. A lot of these are females; eg., we banded 8 Yellow Warblers this morning – most of them were females (young or SY females at that); the 5 Indigo Buntings we banded this morning were all females. And we’re still getting Baltimore Orioles! The 4 we got this morning pushes our total to 117 – tying the record set last year (one I thought we wouldn’t top).

May 25th; Banded 28:
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 Traill’s Flycatcher
1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 American Robin
4 Gray Catbirds
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Blue-winged Warbler
2 Tennessee Warblers
1 Yellow Warblers
2 Magnolia Warblers

Male Magnolia Warbler. -RSG

1 American Redstart
1 Mourning Warbler

One of the last warblers to arrive at Ruthven: Mourning Warbler. This is an ASY male. -DOL

1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1 Indigo Bunting
1 Song Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird
3 Baltimore Orioles
1 Orchard Oriole

A young, or SY (second year) Orchard Oriole. Note the bronze feathers beginning to moult in. -DOL

1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 60 spp.

May 26th; Banded 33:
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. -RSG

2 Eastern Wood-pewees
2 Traill’s Flycatchers
1 Blue Jay
2 Swainson’s Thrushes
3 Gray Catbirds
1 Cedar Waxwing
8 Yellow Warblers
1 Mourning Warbler (another ASY-M)
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
5 Indigo Buntings
1 Red-winged Blackbird
4 Baltimore Orioles
1 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 57 spp.
Other Pictures:

Here’s another look at that female Cerulean Warbler we go the other day. Such a beautiful, subtle blue. -RSG

The female Indigo Bunting also shows a subtle blue. -RSG

Female hummer coming into the feeder. -RSG

Quite a nondescript bird: Warbling Vireo. But its song is anything but nondescript. -RSG

Another “late” warbler at Ruthven: Wilson’s Warbler. -RSG