May 26th – A Throwback Day

This was Marie-Pier's last day - she was a great asset.

What a great way to start the day: sitting at an outside table with a hot drink, watching a multi-hued edge inch forward, and contemplating the important people and things in life….and eating Faye’s still-warm, fresh out of the oven, cinammon rolls.

The morning was marked by a paucity of people, like it used to be years ago before school groups and anyone knowing about the place. So it was peaceful and quiet. Even the birds seemed to recognize this as it was what I would call a more “typical” catching day: The first two rounds produced a good variety of birds which then tailed off as the sun got up and the early morning clouds thinned out. [For the past 2 weeks or so, the first round(s) have not produced many birds; we did most of our catching in the last half of the morning – this is unusual.]

We also enjoyed a small influx of warblers: Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, Mourning Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Canada Warbler as well as an influx of American Goldfinches (we banded 12). I would like to understand the goldfinch movement better. We get them throughout the Winter, causing you to think that they are residents, but then we get reports of some of the birds we’ve banded showing up on Long Island/New York City, West Virginia, and New Orleans. Is there a moving or even migrant population and a stay at home/resident population? I think it’s more complicated. We recapture a lot of ‘our’ goldfinches but not throughout the year as we would with Downy Woodpeckers and Black-capped Chickadees, which are residents. We will recapture many goldfinches only once or twice a year and often about a year from the date of last capture. Have they been somewhere and then stopped at the Ruthven feeders on their way to somewhere else? Unfortunatley, there aren’t any electronics small or light enough to apply to this question.

This was Marie-Pier Laplante’s last day. She visited from Bishop’s University to spend a month learning about avian field techniques. She was highly recommended by one of her instructors, Dr. Marylene Boulet, who also spent a lot of time at Ruthven when she was working on her PhD in the early 2000’s. In fact, Marylene was the person responsible for getting McMaster interested in bringing students to Ruthven in the first place. Marie-Pier was a delight to work with; she worked hard and learned quickly. But most important, she was very pleasant to be around, helpful with volunteers and visitors alike. She will be greatly missed (especially when I now have to open all the nets on my own….)

We had some other interesting sightings: a hen Wild Turkey with at least 6 chicks; several Monarch Butterflies; an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail; and a Meadow Jumping Mouse (close to the picnic table).

Common in the surrounding fields but rare in the banding area - Savannah Sparrow.

Banded 34:
1 Traill’s Flycatcher (measured out as an Alder Flycatcher)
1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 American Robin
1 Gray Catbird
5 Yellow Warblers
2 Magnolia Warblers
1 American Redstart
1 Mourning Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Wilson’s Warbler
2 Canada Warblers
1 Indigo Bunting
1 Field Sparrow
1 Savannah Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
12 American Goldfinches

Gray Catbird with an "overbite" - avian keratin disorder?

ET’s: 64 spp.


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