June 2nd – Looking Backward….And Then Ahead

-H. Scholtens

I must admit, I’m having a bit of trouble adjusting to the ending of my “regime” – I actually slept in to 5:30, a good solid, dream-full, seven hours. That’s a good thing. But this major change leaves me a bit cranky…and then, there’s no muffins or home-made granola or cinammon rolls. Oh well, it will get better I’m sure.

It was an interesting season to say the least. We banded a record 2,045 birds but with the 4th lowest rate of capture in our 16-year Spring history (24.2 birds banded per 100 net hours). This speaks to our slow increase over time in the total number of nets employed (especially noticeable since I retired 2 years ago) and also to the fact that we had very few “down” days – we never missed a day of banding in May due to inclement weather: we had some abbreviated days (showers) and some days with reduced numbers of nets (wind) but never a day when we didn’t catch birds.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails -C. Jones

We had record numbers of 12 species:
> Mourning Dove – 52 (previous high 43)
> Eastern Kingbird – 2 (1)
> Purple Martin – 2 (1)
> House Wren – 25 (23)
> Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 12 (8)
> American Robin – 40 (30)
> Nashville Warbler – 39 (29)
> Yellow-rumped Warbler – 272 (58)!!
> Western Palm Warbler – 43 (15)
> Field Sparrow – 52 (29)
> Red-winged Blackbird – 72 (61)
> Brown-headed Cowbird – 93 (85)

Further, we had sightings of 5 species that we had never encountered before in the banding area at Ruthven. This is pretty unusual as, normally, increases in our “Ruthven Checklist” occur one at a time, spread over a couple of years. So 5 in one season is…interesting: Greater White-fronted Goose, Black Vulture, Upland Sandpiper, Common Raven, Lapland Longspur.

Baltimore Oriole nest hanging over the river. -C. Jones

So you can get a more in-depth look at our results, I’m going to send some spreadsheets to our techie, Jeff MacLeod, and get him to put them on the blog. I can tell you right now though that our Top Three were: American Goldfinch (357), Yellow-rumped Warbler (272), and Yellow Warbler (114). The rest you can see for yourself (even the net effectiveness, net by net – we spare no effort on your behalf…).

One of the developments that is most exciting to me, is the dramatic increase in the number of people contributing to the program – an increase of over 1,150 hours over just last year for he same period. And it’s one of those things where experience pays off in increased skills – a positive “snowball” effect. (This opens up interesting possibilities. One of the things I’m quite interested in for the Fall is to have 2 banding sites – one in the lab and the other on a picnic table under a canopy in the field close to Net 9A. This would help deal with the very large volume of birds that we can experience toward the end of September and through October. We need capable people in order to do this…but now we have them.)

Blossoms -C. Jones

So, what’s likely to be going on moving forward:
I will be leaving for Svalbard on June 8th and will be gone until August 3rd. After this I will spend most of August on the East Coast. So…I’m not much good. But, I will try to put out a weekly blog of my experiences in Svalbard and Grand Manan as I did last year.

Eastern Bluebird. -C. Scholtens

Nancy Furber will be around, off and on, through the Summer and will be doing some monitoring of the Purple Martin boxes and the Barn Swallows at the barn across the highway. Further, she will be doing some banding, especially when the local long-distance breeders (eg, Yellow Warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks) are fledging. Matt Timpf may join her in this in July. So if you’re interested in helping her, you can contact her at: oriskannynn@look.ca

Male Purple Martin. -C. Scholtens

But please don’t restrict yourselves to coming to Ruthven only when there’s a “bander” there. It’s a great place for a hike or a picnic or even a tour. And I’d like to hear about any sightings you make!

So have a great Summer, watch the blog for news, and start getting ready for the Fall – It will be upon us before we know it!!


2 thoughts on “June 2nd – Looking Backward….And Then Ahead

  1. It has been a real pleasure reading your blog this Spring. Happy travels! I will look forward to picking up where you left off in the fall.

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