May 13th – A Pilgrimage

Irene Schmidt celebrating her 91st birthday with a Magnolia Warbler and Betsy Smith, Ruthven president.

Friday the 13th and bikers all over the place make the pilgrimage to Port Dover. We could hear them roaring by on Highway 54 throughout the morning. Whatever happened to mufflers? But this isn’t the pilgrimage I’m referring to. For the past 10 years or so, Irene Schmidt has visited Ruthven on her birthday. She was here again this morning – at the age of 91. Irene has had a lifelong interest in birds. Even now she visits the Mennonite schools in the area where she lives outside of Cambridge to talk to the children about birds and the importance of maintaining habitat for them. She stays just long enough to see some interesting migrants and have a cup of tea and a snack before heading back to Cambridge to see to her dog. Her return to Ruthven has become as important to us as that of the feathered pilgrims pouring through.

We had another really good day. As I mentioned yesterday, a really big Spring day means 100 birds banded. We came very close today, banding 91. We banded as many species today as yesterday (31). And, our total species count for birds encountered throughout the day was higher (83 vs 82), including 14 species of warblers. We had two new arrivals: Eastern Wood Pewee and Red-eyed Vireo.

Brilliant male Scarlet Tanager - P. Thoem

Right now is the perfect time to visit Ruthven to see birds: the migration is in full swing; the trails have dried up (pretty well); the wildflowers are out; the leaves are not fully out so visibility is good; and…the mosquitoes have not yet emerged (a few more days and they will become a BIG negative factor). There is a lot of “unsettled weather” coming over the next few days which could result in some interesting “fall-outs” for us. [Just a reminder, tomorrow is International Migratory Bird Day. We try to celebrate this by opening the banding lab up to the public. The historic mansion too.]

Today's volunteers: Peter, Jonathon, Nancy, Caleb, Maggie, and Liz (Peter Thoem was somewhere lost in the woods doing census).

We had lots of really good help this morning and lots of goodies – don’t you just love fresh-made baked goods(!?) – thanks to Maggie Ker and Betsy Smith.

Joanne proving that everyone can find a role....

Banded 91:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Traill’s Flycatcher
2 Least Flycatcher
1 House Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Wood Thrush
8 Gray Catbirds
1 Warbling Vireo
1 Red-eyed Vireo
12 Yellow Warblers
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
3 Magnolia Warblers
1 Myrtle Warbler
2 Northern Waterthrushes
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Indigo Buntings
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
3 Lincoln’s Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrows
4 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
7 Baltimore Orioles
21 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 29:
1 Blue Jay
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
1 Gray Catbird
1 Brewster’s Warbler
2 Yellow Warblers
3 Common Yellowthroats
1 American Tree Sparrow
7 Chipping Sparrows
5 Brown-headed Cowbirds
2 Baltimore Orioles
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 83 spp.

Today’s Photo Gallery:

Brewster's Warbler - C. Scholtens

Northern Waterthrush - C. Scholtens

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the window feeder. - C. Scholtens

First Red-eyed Vireo of the year. - C. Scholtens

Stunning male Yellow Warbler - C. Scholtens

Our Purple Martin colony has grown to 14 birds. - C. Scholtens

Common Blue Violet - P Thoem

Smooth Yellow Violet - P. Thoem

White Dog-toothed Violet - S. Turner

Spring Beauties - S. Turner


5 thoughts on “May 13th – A Pilgrimage

  1. Dear Sir
    I refer to the frequent comments about the delivery of goodies to the indigents at the banding station. It might be interesting to compare the fat and muscle on the sedentary individuals found hanging around the banding lab with that of the sleek census birders who go without food for prolonged periods of frenetic activity.

  2. Of course the “sleek” census guy doesn’t mention his scarfing down Tim Horton’s bagels and coffee, arriving 3 hours after net opening, while the real workers are busy banding and doing net rounds….The truth of the matter is that we try to eat the baked goodies quickly to protect the census guy from himself.

  3. As any accomplished ornithologist will attest, fueling up before an heroic journey is perfectly normal. However today’s society (and seemingly, the denizens of the banding lab) increasingly endorse casual and continual snacking at the expense of balanced meals and honest and vigorous labour.
    I merely comment on the idle consumption of unneeded fats and sugars by layabouts, while others of the species (almost certainly the survivors in the long haul) keep going without respite – and thereby stay sleek and trim. Hence the reference to fat and muscle checks.

  4. …and, I might add, the snide comment about “arriving 3 hours after net opening” is base and unworthy. To continue the avian metaphors, the rulers of the avian world (eagles, buteos, and the like) don’t skulk around in the half light of misty dawns, instead they cleverly harness the energy of the sun to power their travails – and (unseen by most) they journey great distances in a single day to fulfill their duties in a sleek and efficient manner.

  5. This guy hardly sounds like an imperial ruler of the avian world – more like a cuckoo..

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