Love (appropriately) was in the air when I left the house this morning. Despite the -16 degree temperatures, male House Finches were melodiously conveying their ardour to any and all females within range. It had to be Valentine’s Day.
I had guarded, albeit high, hopes about catching Snow Buntings. We had get some new snow – a couple of centimeters, nothing like what had been forecast – and the temperature had plummeted. So…..what the heck. I set out the traps and waited….and waited. A group of our young ornithologists arrived, even more excited than I was, to catch and band Snow Buntings. Alas, it just wasn’t to be. Except for 2 Horned Larks that dropped in to check things out, and feed on all the cut corn that was outside the traps, we got nothing. In the far distance I had spotted a swirling flock of buntings but they remained in the distance. So we went to plan ‘B’: go to Ruthven, open the feeder nets, do a census and process what we catch.
A really nice thing about this group of young people is that they’re happy learning in the lab and with each other. Liam and Eila set out to do a census but quickly returned to announce they had found an Eastern Phoebe! Is this a very early migrant or an over-wintering bird. Either way, it was special and got us thinking about the Spring migration which is imminent.
We’ve had a number of birders arrive over the last couple of weeks just to see, photograph, and check off a Tufted Titmouse – a bird that can reliably be seen visiting our feeders. A number (birders) have come all the way from Pickering!
Over the couple of hours we had nets open we were able to process 27 birds: 5 new ones and 22 retraps. This relaxed pace gives us time to study common species and sort out the why’s and wherefores of determining age and sex – figuring out “what to look for”.
1 Blue Jay
3 House Finches
1 American Goldfinch
ET’s: 19 spp.