May 13th – Happy Mother’s Day! (and Birdathon Report)

Mother bluebird with food for one of her recently fledged young. -R. Kinzie

My mother was a wonderful woman for whom I had the greatest affection. Same with my grandmother – the woman who fanned the early flame of my interest in birds. I could never thank them enough for who they were and what they gave to me. For me, mothers are a big deal.

Ruth with as nice a Mother's Day present as one could wish for.

So it was with great satisfaction that I was able to endow visitor Ruth Kinzie with a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. As she did last year, Ruth gave herself the gift of coming to the banding lab to spend a morning at her favourite pasttime – birding. She arrived early, just after opening, and after the usual pleasantries announced that she had never seen a Scarlet Tanager and her goal was to see one today – especially after seeing that we had caught one yesterday.
“Well”, I said, “You’re in luck. There’s one calling just behind me along the Carolinian Trail”. Ruth took her binos and the very first bird she focused on was a Scarlet Tanager. That made her very happy. But we like to do things in a big way at Ruthven, so on the first net round we turned into net lane #5 and found….not one but two gorgeous male Scarlet Tanagers. Happy Mother’s Day Ruth!

Two stunning male Scarlet Tanagers caught in the same net at the same time.

There were a number of displays of motherhood going on at Ruthven. At the confluence of the Fox Den and Carolinian Trails, we watched a mother Eastern Bluebird feeding just-fledged young. These must have been the three young from the nest box at the corner of the parking lot. Christine and Chris reported that the box contained young yesterday but that they were gone today. As upwards of 80% of young birds do not survive through their first year, mother bluebird (father too) will have her work cut out for her feeding them until they can forage for themselves. This pair took a chance and bred early, gambling that they would not be hit by a prolonged cold snap. They did go through a short one that killed 2 of the original five. But these three have emerged at an ideal time – the insects are emerging full force, giving them a really good chance of “making it”.

Another motherhood story is that of a Yellow Warbler that we retrapped today. It was hatched in June of 2005 making it just under 7 years old. Each winter it has gone south to the tropics and then has returned to Ruthven successfully. It would be interesting to know how many young it has fledged successfully and how many of those young are alive today. How many nests did it make and how many times did it bring food to its young? Motherhood is a tough job!

Gaby's grandparents, Margaret and John, host a picnic...just outside the banding lab door. Wonderful!!

Another example is the time and effort that Margaret (and John) Leiher takes to bring her granddaughter Gabrielle to Ruthven from Aurora so she can take part in the banding program. And if that wasn’t enough, she puts on a picnic lunch complete with table cloth! Mothers (and picnics)…you gotta love ’em.

ASY male Orchard Oriole.

With overcast skies and reports of scattered showers throughout the area, I had great hopes for the day. We had a good first net round but after that the numbers went down as the cloud dissipated. Still, we had a lot of diversity recording a Clay-coloured Sparrow on census and banding the first American Redstart of the year. We also had 67 species for the day. Not a bad day.

Female American Redstart - first one of the year.

Census in the early morning. -R. Kinzie

Banded 42:
2 Blue Jays
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
1 House Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Veery
1 Swainson’s Thrush
2 American Robins
9 Gray Catbirds
1 Tennessee Warbler
3 Nashville Warblers
3 Yellow Warblers
3 Magnolia Warblers
1 Western Palm Warbler
2 American Redstarts
1 Ovenbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Scarlet Tanager (the other was a retrap)
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Orchard Oriole
3 American Goldfinches

Rhiannon and a redstart. -R. Kinzie

ET’s: 67 spp.

Dream Team checking out the river in the early morning light. - M-P. Laplante

(Unofficial) Birdathon Report:

In the words of Dream Team member, Ben Oldfield:

Ben birding. - B. Oldfield

Hi Everyone
Thank you so much for sponsoring me in the the birdathon.

We woke up at 4:00 in the morning and we had our breakfast. We got in the car and picked up one of my other partners. In total we had 4 people doing the bird a thon. We met at Ruthven, in Caledonia, Ruthven in a bird banding monitoring station When we were all together we started,at 6:00am

We called out all the birds we could see or hear. When we left Ruthven we were up to 72 species a very respectable number !. The highlights were scarlet tanager, bay breasted warbler and a early Canada warbler.

Next we were off to the sewage lagoons for water fowl and shore birds. On the way there, we saw a mocking bird.
Highlights there were Wilson’s phalarope,short billed dowitcher, northern pintail and a green winged teal.

Next to silver lake for more shorebirds.There we picked up semipalmated ploverand solitary sandpiper. Then we drove to St Williams where we looked for a goshawk nest. These birds are very dangerous they will dive bomb you and sometimes catch your head with their talons. This one did not dive at us we were lucky,another person went in and got dive bombed ouch!!!!
also we heard pine warbler and a red breasted nuthatch.
Next to the backus woods for rare warblers including cerulean hooded and prothonatary.The prothonatry warbler is critically endangered less then 10 pairs in Canada!!!
We were very lucky and heard all 3 !
next to long point it was the best by far.
Highlites were tennessee orange crowned chestnut sided warblers. also a veery and swainsons thrush.
Next to the new park in Long Point ..highlites were philadelphia vireo wilson’s warbler northern paurula.
Then to the swamp.highlites were a fly over of sandhill cranes also swamp sparrow marsh wren
It was getting to the end of the daylight. Not to the night birds we heard
a american woodcock,and a whipooorwill. We did not hear any owls. We ended our day in Ancaster at 11pm,
what a great day. We were hoping for 120 species for the day but we got 141 species. Awesome. Including 25 Warbler species.

I have attached some of my favorite pictures I have taken.
Thank you so much for sponsoring me. The money will help the bird banding observatories which helps identify species at risk, and find out the migration routes for these species.
Ben Oldfield

Red-winged Blackbird

Gray Catbird

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Blackburnian Warbler -B. Oldfield

Short-billed Dowitchers in breeding plumage - another great bird. - P. Thoem

Northern Goshawk - one of many great birds seen by the Team.

Waiting to see a Prothonotary Warbler. - P. Thoem


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