July 2nd – Going To The Concert

Adult Barn Swallows wondering what is going on inside “their” barn. -KMP

Marg and I were at the Aldershot GO Train platform waiting for the train to take us to the Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan concert at the Budweiser Stage (it was fabulous by the way but that’s beside the point) when I noticed a female American Goldfinch vigorously gathering nesting material – against a backdrop of cleared fields and earth movers preparing for the next wave of housing development. Hmmm….goldfinches are a “late” nesting species. Hmmm…..geez, it is late!! Where did June go!? And it dawned on me: except for the “late” nesters (not many) the nesting season is either over or almost over. The young are fledging or, in many species, have fledged. We are in the midst of an enormous outpouring of avian biomass – a veritable smorgasbord for Accipiters. Picking off newly hatched birds whose flight feathers aren’t fully formed yet can’t be much of a challenge for them…..

Newly hatched Tree Swallows. Note all the feathers lining the nest – a Tree Swallow characteristic. -KAP

So what did we do in June? There were 2 Forest Bird Monitoring Counts to be done (we’ve been doing these for over 25 years now). And there’s always some data entry of one sort or another. We had to take down some of the nets to protect them from UV damage. There’s net lanes to be cleared and maintained. Not running nets also allows locally nesting species to go about their business without being hampered by our efforts to study them. But we did do some banding: there are LOTS of Tree Swallow/Bluebird/Purple Martin boxes to be monitored and the young, when old enough, banded. Nancy has a project banding Barn Swallow chicks and the odd Ruby-throated Hummingbird whenever she gets a chance. And we also spent part of a day back in the slough forest catching and banding long-distance breeding birds (Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Rose-breasted Grosbeak). So odds and ends except for the nest box monitoring and Barn Swallow banding.

Male (cloacal protuberance evident) Ovenbird deep in the slough forest. -KMP

Although we readily see Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in the open woods around the banding lab, we also get them deep in the slough forest. -KMP

I took part of the month and headed to our cabin on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. There I put up 3 nets and play with banding local breeders – but nothing serious; I’ll wait until the migration gets into full swing during the latter part of August.

SY male Myrtle Warbler. Notice the old (juvenile) brown alula and greater secondary coverts.

Male Northern Parula – this is a common breeding warbler on Grand Manan.

These are Cliff Swallow nesting (plastic:) houses. One home owner on Grand Manan has about 15 of them on her house and they seem to be very effective. Anyone know where I might get some….?

So there you have it. Odds and ends. But the nesting season is drawing down; it soon will be time to get down to serious business. (But I guess the 100+ juvenile Barn Swallows and 150+ Tree Swallows banded so far by the “swallow team” might be considered pretty serious.)

The stoic, almost philosophical look of a juvenile Barn Swallow. -KMP

Banding a young Barn Swallow. -KMP

Young (banded) Barn Swallows not long out of the nest. -KMP

July is an interesting month for local breeders. The newly fledged young birds will be learning how to survive. This is a steep learning curve and a large percentage won’t make it through to next year. While doing this they will disperse in the local area as they check out the various habitats available to them – filing this information away for next year. The adults, once they’re rid of the kids, become pretty seclusive as they go through a complete moult of their feathers. It’s good to keep a low profile when your flying capability is impaired. We intend to pick things up at the beginning of August – but not on a daily basis until September 1st. In the meantime….odds and ends.

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