October 19th & 20th – Bird Festival Weekend

1st Northern Saw-whet Owl of the year (and 1st of 2 caught tonight). -RW

We had beautiful weather for our Bird Festival this weekend – except, maybe, for the cold temperatures early on Saturday morning which frosted up the nets and poles and delayed opening for 2 hours (causing us to miss the first big catch of the day – and it was there: White-throats and juncos). But once the sun was well clear of the horizon and it warmed up we made up for lost time, catching and banding 42 birds. We had an appreciative audience; “preaching to the choir” is always a nice way to go. This was followed by a raptor show and then an excellent talk on Trumpeter Swans by Julie Kee. This bird was almost completely extirpated in Ontario until work started in the 1980’s to protect the remaining 50 or so birds and getting them nesting. Now there are over a thousand of these magnificent birds in the province due in large part to the work of Julie and her colleagues.

Spectators were plentiful at the Festival. -JET

Golden Eagle overhead. -SH

For me the highlight of the day was actually twofold: the sighting of 4 Red-throated Loons in non-breeding plumage winging their way SSW over the river (this is a new bird for Ruthven) followed by the sighting of two (possibly more) Golden Eagles; these have been sighted here only a couple of times before in the last 25 years.

Another look at one of the two Golden Eagles we observed today. -SH

But the highlight of the day for most people was really at night when we caught and banded the first two Northern Saw-whet Owls of the year. We didn’t get one on the first net check but we did get one on each of the next two. I’m not sure what it is exactly about these little raptors but they seem to be everyone’s favourite. Thanks goodness they have finally started to show up! Stay tuned for news of the next public owling night…..

A late night owler…… -JET

Liam being walked through the banding of his firs Saw-whet. JET

Liam with the 2nd owl of the night. -JET

We got an early start opening nets on Sunday morning and, in doing so, tapped into the White-throated Sparrows that like to spend their resting time in the Butterfly Meadow. These birds, which migrate at night, must drop down into it in the wee hours. I would love to be able to see them do it. After a good first round the wheel seemed to come off and we had a couple of net rounds with few birds. But then, as we began to contemplate closing, we got a hit of Cedar Waxwings followed by a moderate hit of American Goldfinches which brought our banding total up for the day.

Pipits were a great help with the Cedar Waxwing “hit”. -Colleen R.

Although we have been catching good numbers of birds during this second 10-day period of October averaging 64.7 birds per day, we are well below the average (going back to 2011 – when I retired) of 83.4 birds/day. Noticeably absent have been Eastern White-crowned Sparrows and juncos; Myrtle Warbler numbers have been low compared to other years; also, our Cedar Waxwing numbers are comparatively low, despite an excellent berry/fruit crop.

Many hands make light work – especially when putting a new boardwalk section into place. -Colleen R.

When you walk around the net lanes you will find the addition of new boardwalks in a couple of them and the refurbishing of existing boardwalks by net 7. All thanks to Rob Gill. These boardwalks are going to help save the net lanes by letting Spring run-off do just that – run off – and not form a quagmire like we had last Spring.

Xena, Princess Warrior. -Colleen R.

October 19th; Banded 46:
2 Northern Saw-whet Owls
1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
4 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
1 European Starling

A very late Nashville Warbler. -CWB

1 Nashville Warbler
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
3 Chipping Sparrows
5 Song Sparrows (2 non-standard)
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows are still around in good numbers. -Colleen R.

13 White-throated Sparrows
5 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 45 spp.

October 20th; Banded 77:
1 Northern Flicker
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Brown Creeper
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
6 Hermit Thrushes

This is the third or fourth American Robin we’ve captured this Fall with a bill disease/deformity. -CWB

Bulbous toes and claw loss seems to co-occur on robins with bill deformities. -CWB

1 American Robin

Cedar Waxwings were the bird of the day. -CWB

21 Cedar Waxwings
1 Myrtle Warbler
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
20 White-throated Sparrows

AHY male Dark-eyed Junco. -RG

3 Dark-eyed Juncos
13 American Goldfinches

A surprise sighting during the Pipit’s census: deer crossing the river. -LS

ET’s: 42 spp.

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