May 24th – Shading Into Summer

Purple Martin nest with 5 eggs and "green stuff" (supposedly to help against parasites). - in one of the gourds.

Now, the official end of Spring and beginning of Summer is still three and a half weeks away. But looking at the birds today, coupled with the weather, you would think Summer was already upon us. Other than 3 Blackpoll Warblers observed during the course of the day and the first Philadelphia Vireo of the year, there were no new migrants around that likely had a long way to go to their breeding grounds. All the other birds we encountered were pretty well into their breeding behaviour/physiology. Summer is upon us – we’re into it. This was confirmed by the weather – the temperature had climbed from 13 degrees at opening time to 26 (and climbing) by noon and with the humidex it is expected to top out at well over 30. Svalbard is a long distance from anywhere and anyone…but you gotta like the temperature (at least I do).

Co-op student Addison with a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak he's just banded.

Usually at this time of the banding season, when things are tailing off, we try to put as much time as we can into getting the site ready for the Summer layoff. This involves trimming the net lanes and trails – a LOT of work. Fortunately, our two co-op students, Mackenzie and Addison are not shy about work and have done a great job maintaining them (as well as learning how to extract birds from nets effectively and band them). They have been a great help.

Mackenzie with a bird.

Martins build a high mud "shield" at the entrance.

Our Purple Martin colony is thriving. We have at least 30 martins living in the colony now (they’re hard to get an exact count on). We are doing nest check every other day now and we currently have 22 nests (ranging from fully finished with eggs in them to just starting). So far we have eggs in 3 of them: 5 in one nest gourd; 4 in another; and 1 in one of the box nests. Similar to last year, the birds seem to get an earlier start in the gourds.

A clutch of 4 in the other gourd.

Banded 25:
1 Mourning Dove
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Wood Thrush
2 Gray Catbirds
5 Cedar Waxwings
1 Philadelphia Vireo (first of the year)
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Canada Warbler
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
2 Indigo Buntings
1 Song Sparrow
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
5 American Goldfinches

Very brown plumage of a SY male Indigo Bunting.

Retrapped 19:
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 House Wren
1 Gray Catbird
1 Blue-winged Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Indogo Bunting
2 Chipping Sparrows
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 60 spp.


2 thoughts on “May 24th – Shading Into Summer

  1. I’m wondering if, with enough study of known-aged birds, it might be possible to discriminate SY, TY and ATY males.

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