October 11th – 132,000 Kilograms of Myrtle Warblers

The colours of Fall. - C. Scholtens

Factoring in the 51 Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers we banded today, our Fall total for this bird is just under 200….and climbing. They were all over and could be seen throughout the day. In fact, the last 2 birds banded (of the 94 we did today) were both Myrtles taken out of…you guessed it, Net 6.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is one of the commonest and most widespread warblers in Canada. It breeds in mature coniferous forests from Alaska right across to Newfoundland. According to the 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas of Ontario, the probablity of observing one has increased by about 11% since the first atlas twenty years ago. Based on point counts for the atlas, the Ontario population is estimated to be in the range of 12,000,000! Right now, the Ontario population of Yellow-rumped Warblers is pouring out of its northern breeding grounds and heading south. The average weight of one of these warblers (without much fat) is 11 grams. So each night, there’s at least 132,000 kilograms of these warblers in the sky across the province. And that’s just one species. The wonder of it brings to mind a passage I came across in the Foreword (by W.S. Merwin) to the Counterpoint edition of Fred Bodsworth’s Last of the Curlews:
“All of the migrants, and the phenomenon of migration itself, from the time I first knew of them, seemed to possess a dimension and radiance of their own. One of the things that we late arrivals on the earth sense, and in turn portray as legendary, is an awareness much older than our own. In each of the migrants we are afforded glimpses of beings in whom the turning of the earth, its axis and magnetic fields, day and night and the seasons, the winds and all that we call the elements, and the motions of the celestial bodies themselves are the pulse of a heart and the illumination of a consciousness.”

Growth on the head of a Hermit Thrush.

Another look.

Weatherwise, change was in the air: thin clouds drifted across the almost-full moon when I was opening and got heavier as the morning progressed. We’re supposed to get rain starting during the night. I hate to admit this, but I was getting pretty tired of the clear blue skies…….just not good for banding….I think the birds know the change is coming and are trying to get as far as possible before it hits. The rate of capture today was 71 per 100 net hours – 30 more than yesterday.

Swamp Sparrow - C. Scholtens

Banded 94 (highest total so far for the Fall):
2 Downy Woodpeckers
1 Brown Creeper
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Swainson’s Thrush
6 Hermit Thrushes
2 Cedar Waxwings
51 Myrtle Warblers
1 Blackpoll Warbler
1 Chipping Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
15 White-throated Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
5 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 26:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Hermit Thrushes
1 Nashville Warbler
4 Myrtle Warblers
1 Blackpoll Warbler
3 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
2 White-throated Sparrows
6 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows

ET’s: 48 spp.

Birds banded per 100 net hours: 71

Some pictures from yesterday thanks to Caleb Scholtens:

Osprey coming in for a landing. - C. Scholtens

Spider web set off by the dew. - C. Scholtens

Eastern Phoebe - C. Scholtens

Red-bellied Woodpecker - C. Scholtens

Hermit Thrush - C. Scholtens


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