October 30th – Windy and Cold

First American Tree Sparrow of the season….back for the Winter. -NRF

Wow! October is almost over! Where has the Fall gone!? Summer seemed to last forever and then, WHAM!, we’re into the “typical” Fall weather: cold and blustery. And you can see it in the birds – the long-distrance migrants have all gone (except maybe for the odd straggler) and the short-distance migrants have got down to the last few. Now the winter residents are moving in – notably, we got the first American Tree Sparrows of the season at both Ruthven and Fern Hill Oakville today. At Ruthven there is still a good grape crop which probably explains the Eastern Bluebirds we have been seeing (and banding) over the last couple of days. One of the most exciting developments to me is the return of a beaver to the Ruthven river flats. You can see where it has been taking down walnuts close to the river and its trail is quite evident. The fact that it likes walnuts is a real surprise. A few years ago a beaver family took down literally hundreds of small walnuts on the flats, completely changing the aspect. When their lodge was swept away in the Spring floods the walnuts returned with a vengeance. But the beavers have returned…….

The new Ott Lamp glowing pink – happy thoughts. -KMP

And now it’s blue……someone feeling down…. -KMP

Karen and Marnie felt that we needed a better light over the lab work area for skulling and appraising feather age so they went out and got a wonderful Ott lamp – which is terrific. This particular model comes with the capacity to change the colour of its base. I watched it carefully and found that it was attuned to the moods of Samuel (Samwise as the Baggers call him) to the point that it would change colour depending on his moods/thoughts: happy thoughts = pink; unhappy ones = blue. Amazing! Next time you’re their with him watch how it responds to him…..

Part of a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds that flew over this morning. -KMP

At Ruthven:
A quiet morning with strong winds gusting from the west causing nets to
billow. Banding and observation numbers were low today but new for the
season were American Tree Sparrows. Closed early with the threat of rain
and it was a good thing we did – the rain soon came and it was dark and
nasty. A highlight today for everyone was seeing the Red-wing Blackbirds.
On census, Carol and I were on the Carolinian Trail, looking south over
Rick’s rill towards the back fields when we saw this ‘river’ of Red-wing
Blackbirds! We could hear this large flock of blackbirds before we saw
them, never anticipating the numbers. Then, we saw them moving low, next
to the treeline and following the edge of the field towards the river. A
flow of birds that just kept coming, and coming! Then, just as we were
finishing the census route you could hear this massive flock of blackbirds
on the move to the south. Sure enough, the birds flew over the banding
lab moving north east. Everyone in the banding lab saw them and were
commenting on the number of them and the noise they made. We estimated
~1000 birds, thinking there was more than that.

Banded 12:

The stiff, spikey tail of the Brown Creeper is very useful for propping it up against a tree trunk. -CMS

1 Brown Creeper
2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
3 American Tree Sparrow

This Fox Sparrow shows clearly how it got its name. -CMS

1 Fox Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrow
2 Slate-colored Junco
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 25 species
A few photos from the last couple of days at Ruthven:

Male (obviously!!) Northern Cardinal. -MMG

In contrast, the drab female cardinal. -MMK

Samuel and his Bluebird Posse. -MMG

Check out the colouration of this male goldfinch’s head – getting gray with age? -KMP

One of four Eastern Bluebirds caught yesterday. -CMS

Eastern Bluebird. -CMS

Brilliant male House Finch. =CMS


Fern Hill Oakville:
It was cold and windy at Fern Hill’s Oakville campus as well! To the point that we didn’t open a couple of the nets as they were billowing (more than the others). We had been setting out ground traps in the central courtyard and baiting them with cut corn to attract Mourning Doves but hadn’t caught any. So I decided to change and switched to simple mixed bird seed. What a difference!! We caught and banded 18 Mourning Doves, 17 of which came from the traps. We also gotour first tree sparrows of the season today as well. ON the whole we had a much better day than the Ruthven crew as we banded 41 birds.

Banded 41:
18 Mourning Doves
1 Blue Jay
1 Black-capped Chickadee

Male Golden-crowned Kinglet. -KAP

4 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin

First of the season – American Tree Sparrows with their two-toned bills. -KMP

6 American Tree Sparrows
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 American Goldfinches
3 House Sparrows

ET’s: 19 spp.

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