A week of cold windy weather has the river almost frozen up. Lots of ice but there’s still sizeable leads. These could disappear with an intense cold snap or increase in size if it warms up.
We started off at Duxbury Road trying for Snow Buntings. First thing, a flock of >150 birds flew up from the bait pile which they had pretty well finished off. We replenished the piles and set out the traps. After half an hour the birds returned, circled the traps, landed and then skittishly took to the air again. they did this several times before heading off to the west. After another empty half hour we decided to pull the traps and spend out time more productively at Ruthven. Interestingly, as we were carrying the traps back to the car, a group of about 25 birds showed up and started feeding on the cut corn – I think they had been waiting for us to leave.
At Ruthven the area in the vicinity of the feeders is very busy and we have been going through quite a lot of sunflower seed. One surprise for me this past Fall was the number of American Tree Sparrows we banded – 153, well over the previous high of 99. And then we banded another 31 between November 8th and December 31st. We added to that total with another 8 today.
Every Winter now we get a number of these birds returning from previous years. For some Ruthven is their Winter home. In fact, when you think it through, Ruthven is the “prime residence” for them (sounds like a Senate investigation doesn’t it?). Typically we start getting them in late October/early November. Retrap evidence shows that they are here throughout the Winter staying as long as the middle of April. That adds up to 5+ months. They will likely spend 3 months in transit between Ruthven and their breeding grounds, spending then 4 months in the nesting grounds.
We retrapped 3 today. the first was a young (HY) bird that was originally banded Novemer 2; it has been retrapped 7 times since; it’s spending the Winter here. The second was a young (SY) bird banded on January 27, 2015. It was retrapped another 10 times up until April 15th. In April (when it was caught 9 times) it put on over 2.5 grams before venturing north…and now it is back again. The third was banded as on older bird on Marh 14th, 2014. It was retrapped on November 6, 2014 and then in January and April, 2015.
It would be interesting to know the route they take to and from the nesting grounds which, in Ontario, are at the tree line in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, usually within 35 kilometers of the Hudson Bay coast.
ET’s: 18 spp.