May 17th – Getting Ready For Round 2

The Killdeer pair are well on their way to successfully raising 4 young. Shortly after this picture they were copulating - getting ready for nest 2.

For quite a while I watched the two Killdeer parents usher their 4 young chicks around the upper parking lot. Miraculously, these 4 youngsters continue to thrive – I remember last year (there’s been a nest in the parking lot ever since I can remember) watching their number dwindle and finding one flattened by an automobile. The others likely succumbed to predators. But, keep your fingers crossed, it’s been several days now and they seem to be thriving. In fact, they’re doing so well that mom and dad started to copulate again, getting ready for Round 2. Amazing when you think about it: there are many migrants yet to come through and here we have a couple of birds that are finishing one brood and getting ready to start another. At the end of the morning, the parents moved the brood down into the Butterfly Meadow. This will be a good thing in terms of the car traffic but I think there’s more predators in that area (I saw a weasel in there just a few days ago). It’s a tradeoff – one risk for another. It will be interesting to see what happens.

This female Mourning Warbler was probably the highlight of the day.

From a migratory bird pespective, it was another slow day. The highlight, I guess, was a female Mourning Warbler. We don’t get many of these birds so it’s always a treat. Again (and I don’t want to belabour this point), I’m struck by the lack of long-distance migrants that we’ve been getting. We’ve seen very few warblers but also very few thrushes – only a couple of Veeries and Swainson’s Thrushes and NO Grey-cheeked Thrushes. It’s hard to understand. The optomist in me keeps saying that there’s a big push south of the lakes, held back by various weather systems, that will soon hit but something insidious is whispering that this is as good as it’s going to get – the migration is winding down. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Checking the Purple Martin Boxes - one of the hanging gourds contains 3 eggs.

We have been monitoring the Purple Martin houses every few days. There are now at least 6 nests but so far only 3 eggs have been laid – in one of the gourds. Interestingly, Christine and Chris report that they have been inundated with Tree Swallow eggs in the boxes they’re been checking. Interesting how timing differs from one species to another. What forces have shaped their genetics to produce these differences? Both are aerial insectivores and both return fairly early, yet the Tree Swallows are way ahead of the Purple Martins in terms of egg laying. How come?

Banded 32:
2 Northern Flickers
1 Least Flycatcher
7 Gray Catbirds
2 Blue-winged Warblers
1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Nashville Warbler
3 Yellow Warblers
3 Magnolia Warblers
1 Mourning Warbler (1st for the year)
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
2 Indigo Buntings
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Field Sparrows
5 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 26:
1 Northern Flicker
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Gray Catbird
1 Blue-winged Warbler
2 Yellow Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroats
4 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 Baltimore Oriole
6 American Godlfinches

ET’s: 62 spp.

Leave a Reply