May 3rd – Whammo!!

Migrant passerines south of Lake Erie last night would have waited for the sun to go down and then, about half an hour after sunset, would have taken to the air winging their way north. If they were carrying sufficient fat reserves (and most of the migrants we have been catching have had good fat “scores”) then they could comfortably do 150-200 km in good conditions. There wasn’t much wind so all systems were go. But sometime during the night they hit a rain storm which stopped the migration pretty well in its tracks as the birds headed for ground – a “fallout”. Large numbers were being reported over much of southern Ontario and we certainly saw the result at Ruthven and at Fern Hill School in Oakville.

Baltimore Orioles are back and after the grape jelly. -NRF

Ruthven Park – A Shower of Birds
A late start to the morning while we waited for the rain to stop. By the time we opened, the school group had arrived and we had a very busy morning!

New U. of Windsor students Jason and Madison, showing off a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. (Get used to those smiling faces – they’ll be around for a couple of months.) -NRF

The nets were opened a little over three hours and it was sweet seeing waves of White-throated Sparrows, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers in the nets on each round! I closed earlier than I wanted to due to the lack of help. By the time the last birds had been extracted and banded it was getting late. Thanks to Dave B, Madison and Jason (this was their first day of training) for all of their help! New birds for the sesaon included Orchard Oriole and Black-throated Green Warbler.

Banded 90:
1 Northern Flicker
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Blue Jay
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
18 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 Hermit thrushes
2 American Robins
1 Gray Catbird
2 Yellow Warblers
16 Myrtle Warblers

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak on the left (lemon yellow underwing) and male on the right (red underwing) – a good discrimination to be able to make in the Fall when the juvenile males look like the females…except for the underwing. -NRF

8 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
4 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrow
17 White-throated Sparrows
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
2 Baltimore Orioles
2 Purple Finches
2 American Goldfinches


Fern Hill School Oakville – Grandparents’ Day

Katherine talking about birds and banding with some students and their attendant grandparents (who were just as interested, if not more so, than the kids). -CH

This is a great day to be at the school. The students bring their grandparents who shadow them throughout a school day to see just what their grandchildren are up to, meet the teachers, and see the various programs that the school has to offer. It is a tremendously positive day topped off with a late afternoon concert featuring school bands and award-winning choirs. But….about birds….

As at Ruthven we too had to wait for the rain to end. I began to think: of all the days for the weather to be lousy. But then…it stopped …and we started. And the birds didn’t lose any time. I spent much of the morning running around extracting birds from nets while Katherine oversaw the banding and instructed students and grandparents alike about the wonder of birds. It was a wonderful day all round.

This is the “transition” time in the migration: when the long-distance migrants take over from the short-distance birds (which move through earlier). Today we caught juncos – winter residents that should have been well on their way north – and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks – which would have just arrived from Central America or even Colombia. (If they could talk to each other I wonder what they would have to say…)

One of the grandparents saying goodbye to one of 11 Black-capped Chickadees that we banded. -KAP

Banded 48:
2 Mourning Doves
11 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
8 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Northern Waterthrush
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
5 Chipping Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Red-winged Blackbirds
3 Common Grackles
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds

ET’s: 41 spp.

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