May 6th – A Big Surprise!

A real rarity at Ruthven (and southern Ontario) – Yellow-breasted Chat. -NRF

It was beautiful watching four Common Loons flying north early this morning! One flew directly over the banding lab and the morning sunrise was shining on another one. It was a warm, bright start to the day with light winds from the south. Nice weather usually accounts for a slower day for birds banded but we had quality birds and an exciting morning. The highlight was banding a Yellow-breasted Chat! They are the largest warbler with a heavy bill, white spectacles, a bright yellow throat and breast and a long tail. This is only the fourth chat banded at the Ruthven Park Banding Station.

This is a very unusual Northern Waterthrush. -NRF

This Waterthrush proved to be something of a conundrum. The fairly wide eyestripe is suggestive of a Louisiana Waterthrush. But the spotting on the throat and the lack of buff on the flanks would indicate a Northern Waterthrush albeit the western or northwestern form.

Picture of a Northern Waterthrush taken a few days ago. Note the narrowing eyestripe. -CD

On census, I saw the first Scarlet Tanager for the season and to finish off the morning, I banded the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird. They’re back and if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to put your hummingbird feeders up!

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. -NRF

Banded 24
2 Mourning Dover
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
3 Blue Jay
1 House Wren
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
4 Gray Catbird
1 Blue-winged Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Northern Waterthrush
1 Field Sparrow
1 Lincoln Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Yellow-breasted Chat

Dorsal view of that chat. -WJA

Head-on view of the Yellow-breasted Chat. -WJA

ET’s: 62 spp.

This female Yellow Warbler was originally banded in May 2016. It was in its 2nd year then (so hatched in 2015) making her 4 years old now. Note she was caught in each subsequent year – Ruthven is home for her. -NRF


Fern Hill School Oakville – A Busy Morning!

A new bander and a new scribe – wonderful! -KAP

We apparently had a much busier day at Fern Hill than the folks did at Ruthven. It was wonderful to hear the White-crowned Sparrows singing in the early sun and to see Bobolinks over the “Bobolink Field” just to the south of the playing field. Interesting to me is that we are continuing to catch unbanded chickadees, all with fat loads, all on the move. I would love to know what it is about the school’s little corner of habitat that draws them.

Banded 45:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Blue Jay
5 Black-capped Chickadees
1 House Wren
3 American Robins
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Western Palm Warbler
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrows
8 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
5 Red-winged Blackbirds
7 Common Grackles
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 43 spp.

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