May 14th – A Damp/Dark Morning

It was a damp / dark morning with a light misty rain. To open or not to open … that was the question. Was the rain going to stop or just settle in? A check with the radar and it showed a break in the weather but it never really cleared or warmed up very much. It was a quiet morning for bird activity and song. So much water laying around the banding lab, with the banding lanes ‘deep’ in mud. In total we handled 53 birds!

Banded 18:
1 Least Flycatcher
2 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
2 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 White-crowned Sparrow
5 Baltimore Oriole
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 55 species

Fern Hill School Oakville:

Two Wood Thrushes. -KAP

We were faced with the same conditions and the same question. We decided to open and it proved to be a good decision as the drizzle tapered off fairly early in Oakville (although the chill remained until the afternoon). As I have been at Ruthven the past couple of days, so I was struck at Oakville by the lack of warbler/bird activity along the edges – so much unused habitat! Not sure what’s going on.

Banded 35:
1 Black-capped Chickadee

Ella with one of the two Red-breasted Nuthatches we banded today. -KAP

2 Red-breasted Nuthatches
1 Wood Thrush
3 American Robins
1 Gray Catbird

Beautiful ASY male Black-throated Blue Warbler. -KAP

1 Black-throated Blue Warbler

Western Palm Warbler. -KAP

1 Western Palm Warbler
1 Black & White Warbler
1 Ovenbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Northern Cardinal

Sam with a Lincoln’s Sparrow. -KAP

2 Lincoln’s Sparrows

One of 11 White-crowned Sparrows banded today at Fern Hill. -KAP

11 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
4 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Common Grackle
3 Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles have just arrived in the vicinity of the school. -KAP

ET’s: 41 spp.


Banding report – Munro Academy, Balls Creek, NS – Update from Jeff MacLeod

Ten years ago I moved away from Ontario, and unfortunately my opportunities for bird banding have been more limited since my move. I did some banding of Hermit Thrush for a research project and have travelled back to Ontario regularly to visit Ruthven, but nothing quite as consistent as when I lived near Ruthven. Recently, I’ve moved to Cape Breton and my daughter has been attending a small private school, Munro Academy, since our move. It turns out the school is near some reasonable habitat for setting up mist nets, so this spring I’m trying to see whether banding at the school with the elementary children (the only age on this campus) could be a realistic endeavour. I’ve been out a few days this month, never arriving all that early, and the days have been productive despite my sloth. Today’s (May 14) effort was somewhat impromptu, as I opened the net planning on a few minutes and didn’t get to close it for 1.5 hours, capturing nearly 30 birds in that time. I even ended up doing an unplanned banding demo with the kids at recess, as I was still banding at that time. So, it seems that banding at this location will be viable, and the plan is to start weekly before-school banding and occasional banding with classes.

Spring in Cape Breton arrives behind spring in Southwestern Ontario. While Ruthven is capturing a variety of warblers, many of our warblers are just beginning to arrive. Our nights have still been cold, below zero last night, and it has often been rainy and windy. On May 5 I heard a Yellow-rumped Warbler around the banding area, but that is the only warbler of the year so far for me. As you’ll see below, we’re catching a lot of birds attracted to feeders.

I currently have one net setup at the school, but am planning to cut another net lane for a second. I have feeders setup around this single net, and they draw in many birds (mostly finches). The current net and the planned net are around a baseball field that is behind the school. I’ve included a few pictures of the area around the net and a map that shows the school and ball field from google maps. The net is close to the green ballfield pin on the map. Wish us luck!

May 4, 2019 – 33 banded, 2 retraps – Net open 2.5 hours starting at about 7am
5 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
2 Pine Siskin
1 Savannah Sparrow
17 American Goldfinch
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Song Sparrow
2 Hairy Woodpecker

May 5, 2019 – 20 banded, 6 retraps – Net open 2.5 hours starting at about 7:30am
10 American Goldfinch
3 Purple Finch
1 Dark-eyed Junco
6 Pine Siskin

May 14, 2019 – 27 banded, 1 retrap – Net open 1.5 hours starting at about 8:50am
2 Black-capped Chickadee
7 Pine Siskin
2 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Purple Finch
12 American Goldfinch
3 White-throated Sparrow

My daughter with a Pine Siskin

Pine Siskins will set up shop and breed when they have a good food source, even if it is still too cold/early for many birds to breed. This female Pine Siskin had a brood patch, and I watched a fledgling siskin begging for food beside a feeder the a few days ago. Yes, that is bird poop on my finger.

We don’t have bands or pliers for the big birds, like Jays, so this guy got away without a souvenir.

The net lane. There are feeders on either side.

My daughter with a White-throated Sparrow

The area around the net

The area around the net


Jeff MacLeod

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