May 23rd – Dealing With The Vapours

We banded the 4 little Killdeer. Hopefully we will see one of these in the future. Wouldn't that be exciting!?

Sometimes you just get a perfect storm of things hitting you: people leaving, no one arriving, late nights, (very) early mornings, no birds, no muffins, another day older and a-deeper in debt…and you end up with the vapours. I deal with them by doing something physical and tonight I went for a long cycle. Part of it was along an old farmer’s laneway, winding through old hay fields and overhung with trees. The light wind blew the long hay grasses like catspaws on water and whispered throught the branches. Before very long I was caught up, listening to the bird song all around and trying to place them: Bobolinks…from Argentina; Eastern WoodPewees…from the understorey of the jungles of Brazil; Rose-breasted Grosbeaks…from Costa Rica or maybe even Colombia; Yellow Warblers….from Mexico; Indigo Buntings…from Latin America. And on and on. It was magical. But it couldn’t go on. I rode into an area of more intense agriculture and was hit by two things: first, a huge field had already had a hay crop cut and windrowed, ready for bailing; second, many fields were plain brown, lying fallow but with no emergent vegetation of any kind – any plant life killed by Roundup or some other herbicide. Early cropping of hayfields like this must be absolutely devastating to to the many birds nesting in those fields. Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Upland Sandpipers, many sparrow species – all are in trouble. And the use of Round-up and Round-up ready crops….do we know, really know, the longterm effects? No plants growing in those fields; no insects feeding on those plants; a massive decrease in the numbers of “avian insectivores” – birds that feed on those insects and catch them on the wing. I mused over this for many kilometers. The ride kind of cured the vapours but the juxtaposition of hayfields blowing in the wind, filled with birdsong, and the stark lifelessness of farmlands “commercially cropped” remain disturbing.

We were supposed to get rain yesterday evening and during the night – “a thirty percent chance of showers”. Of course this means a 70% chance of no showers…which we got…or didn’t get…or whatever. The bottom line is that it was dry this morning except for the heavy dew and the thick fog which rolled in from the river just after we opened the nets and started to do the census. So we didn’t get rain but it was wet. How’s that?

We didn’t see many migrants and, although we banded 39 birds (which is a good number considering the past week), most of these were birds that would breed locally or are breeding locally (every female we caught, except for the Nashville and Magnolia Warblers, had a “brood patch” indicating that she was sitting on eggs).

Banding a young Killdeer.

We have been following the Killdeer family for the past week and decided that, as they appear to be thriving, we would band them in the hope that we might learn more about them – where they go, thether some of them will return. Although they can really scoot, we were able to chase them down and catch them by hand. We banded them very quickly and released them all together. Their parents gathered them up quickly and ushered them away – letting us know hey weren’t happy about it all.

Lexie and grandad Ken - on her 13th birthday

We were host to a neat tradition again this year: Grandpa Ken Dolbear brought his granddaughter, Lexie, to the banding lab to celebrate her 13th birthday – this is the 4th year in a row this has happened. Happy Birthday!!

Lexie with a Yellow Warbler. -K. Dolbear

Banded 39:
4 Killdeer
1 Mourning Dove
1 Traill’s Flycatcher (measurements suggested it was an Alder Flycatcher)
2 Eastern Kingbirds (male and female)
1 Tree Swallow
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Eastern Bluebird
2 Wood Thrushes (male and female)
3 Gray Catbirds
7 Cedar Waxwings
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler (we have banded at least 1 every day in May)
3 Magnolia Warblers
1 Common Yellowthroat
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 59 spp.

Photo Gallery:

Red-headed Woodpecker (taken at Rondeau) -P. Thoem

Peter Thoem was recently at Rondeau and got this great shot of a Red-headed Woodpecker there. One has been seen here twice over the past week.

Female Hairy Woodpecker along the Fox Den Trail -P. Thoem

Tree Swallow -P. Thoem

David Brewer

Visitors Ray, Hannah, and Will. -K. Dolbear

Nancy and Lexie extracting. -K. Dolbear

Male and female Eastern Kingbirds.

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