October 29th – November 1st – Catching Up

Two local wood nymphs – conjuring owls. -KMP


It’s been a hectic time with lots on the go. Weather conditions have been all over the map with a preponderance of wet days (except for the 30th which was clear). Long-distance migrants have almost all moved on and we’re seeing the end of the moderate-distance ones. The big flocks of Cedar Waxwings are no where to be found and the field edges that only a few days ago were alive with the early morning chips of White-throated Sparrows are now quiet. But….where are the American Tree Sparrows? They should be here now en masse but we’ve seen only a few and banded a mere 4.

The American Goldfinches have finally started to show up – both new, young birds and oldtimers. These latter we seem to get with regularity. They show up in either Spring or Fall or both, stay for awhile and then disappear only to show up again during the next migration period. They seem to have built the Ruthven feeders into their travel plans.

On the other hand…..on the evening of Hallowe’en we ran a small owl training workshop for a few of our regular banding volunteers. We thought if we could get a couple it would give them some much-needed hands-on experience. We caught 15(!) – 11 “new” ones and 4 others that we had banded within the last 10 days – I think the generally poor weather conditions may have kept them in place. Needless to say we had a great time – made even better by Irene’s baked goods and Dave’s deep-fried Lake Simcoe perch prepared in situ.

And at Fern Hill in Oakville it was mostly Black-capped Chickadees. The biggest surprise was a diminutive Red-bellied Snake we found in good condition on the 29th and an Orange-crowned Warbler that we banded today. But NO American Tree Sparrows……

October 29th:
Ruthven; Banded 35:

Lyn with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Their numbers are petering out. -KMP


2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
26 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 30 spp.

Young Ornithologist with a House Finch – there is a large flock at the school feeding in a burdock patch. -KAP


Fern Hill Oakville; Banded 24:
14 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
1 Northern Cardinal
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 House Finches

Red-bellied Snake – a big surprise on a cold late-October day. -KAP


The Red-bellied Snake. -KAP


October 30th; Ruthven; Banded 43:
1 Blue Jay
1 Brown Creeper

An unusually late House Wren. -KMP


1 House Wren
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Fox Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
2 Swamp Sparrows
12 Dark-eyed juncos

This male goldfinch was banded as a youngster in November 2016. -KMP


18 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 34 spp.

Ginny learning how to process a bird. -RB


October 31st:
Ruthven; Banded 14:

1 Mourning Dove
3 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 27 spp.

The Satyr of the Sough Forest with a Saw-whet. -MMG


Ruthven; Owloween; Captured 15 Northern Saw-whet Owls/ Banded 11

One net round’s “haul”. -KMP


One of 15 Northern Saw-whets caught Wednesday night – Owloween. -KMP


Dave Maida’s breaded perch, made on the spot – yummy! -MMG


Same species but very different facial patterns. -MMG


Northern Saw-whet Owl. RF


Two banded Saw-whets getting ready to take flight. -RF


November 1st:
Ruthven; Banded 20:

4 Mourning Doves
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
7 Pine Siskins
7 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 12 spp. (observations were limited by the persistent heavy rains)

Fern Hill Oakville; Banded 12:
2 Mourning Doves
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
1 Dark-eyed Junco
2 House Finches
Rick

October 27th & 28th – Wet Weekend….But NOT A Washout

Canada Geese heading inland to forage. -KMP


A lot of rain fell over the course of the weekend starting Friday night. It came down steadily on Saturday but petered out on Sunday morning being mostly light drizzle until about noon and then stopping. We even got a few flakes of snow!

Buoyed by the finding of some “strange” juncos we decided that we would put out traps on Saturday which we could watch and clear quickly – birds could get a good feed but wouldn’t get soaked. As juncos come readily to traps we wanted to try and recapture some of the suspect birds so we could get a better look. We figure that there were around 8 all caught at close to the same time. On Sunday we opened traps again but also unfurled nets 1A and 2 – the “feeder nets” – when the drizzle diminished. Despite the few nets we caught a lot of birds banding 9 new birds on Saturday but handling 32 retraps and today we banded 31 but handled 64 retraps including most of the suspect birds (you can look at their pictures below and decide for yourself).

Saturday, October 27th; Banded 9:
1 Mourning Dove

AHY Blue Jay – there are still lots of jays moving through the site. -MMG


1 Blue Jay
7 American Goldfinches

Note the lovely tail on this adult goldfinch. -MMG


ET’s: 24 spp.

Karen says there’s 141 Canada Geese here…….please check. -KMP


Sunday, October 28th; Banded 31:
1 Mourning Dove
1 American Tree Sparrow

Lots of sparrows still on the move including this Fox Sparrow. -MMG


1 Fox Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
8 Dark-eyed Juncos

One of two Pine Siskins caught today. -MMG


2 Pine Siskin
15 American Goldfinches
1 House Sparrow
ET’s: 29 spp.
Junco Pictures:

For comparison: regular Dark-eyed Junco (left) and the Oregon/Cassiar/Pink-sided Junco (right). Personally, I am going with Oregon Junco…… -DOL


Dark-eyed (left) and possible Oregon (right). -DOL


Front view. Dark-eyed on the left. -DOL


Dark-eyed on left. -DOL


Samuel with the possible Oregon Junco. It has been around for 4 days now. -DOL


A “regular” adult male Dark-eyed Junco. -MMG


Another suspect junco. -MMG


Another possible Oregon/Cassiar/Pink-sided Junco – a female. -KMP


More detail. -KMP


Oregon? Cassiar? Pink-sided? Your opinion? -MMG


Another look. -MMG


CAO Marilynn Havelka was telling visitors that this was a Seattle Junco – a very specific designation indeed. -MMG


Some pictures from Thursday’s Owl Night (we caught 10 Northern Saw-whets!

One of 10 owls captured Thursday night. -CR


Long-time supporter Dorothy Smith with a Saw-whet. CR


Part of the “owl team”. RY


Marg with an owl she’s just banded. -CR


Rick
And From Fern Hill Burlington:

Burlington YO’s hard at work. -KAP


After Fern Hill Oakville’s two day and one overnight at Ruthven, it was nice to be back in Burlington with the Young Ornithologists there. The winds on Thursday and Friday brought large number of unbanded chickadees to the feeders and nets at the school; at one point 20 in one net at once! Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting a chickadee must be aware of their tenacity and feistiness, and willingness to give as good as they get, and after extracting 20 in one net round, “that chickadee feeling” had a new meaning to it.

Thursday-banded 23
BCCH-22
EWCS-1

Burlington birders with an adult White-crowned Sparrow. -KAP


Friday-Banded 10 ET’d 26species
BCCH-9
RBNU-1 (an uncommon catch for us!)

Outside of bird banding in my Field Studies classes we observed one Eastern Red Backed Salamander under one of our observation boards, and found an Eastern Garter Snake, unusual to see on a colder day, but exciting for the grade eights who are working on a hibernaculum!

Exploring…..you just never know what you might find. -KAP


Eastern Red-backed Salamander. -KAP


Braving the late October conditions: a Garter Snake. -KAP


Katherine

October 25th & 26th – A Puzzler

An “unusual” junco: Pink-sided, Oregon, Cassiar? What is your opinion? -KMP


Distinctive bib and flanks. -KMP


Chocolate saddle. -KMP


Brown primary coverts indicate a HY bird. -KMP


Note the cream-coloured undertail coverts – I’ve never seen that before in a junco. -KMP


On the 24th, with the Fern Hill Young Ornithologists and amidst a lot of birds, we handled 34 juncos, all banded as Dark-eyed Juncos. At the time we were running 3 banding “stations”, all under the supervision of an experienced bander – this way we could maximize the learning opportunities for the students. Nonetheless it was hectic at times.

On the 25th I retrapped one of these juncos and noticed that, while a junco, it was markedly different than any Dark-eyed Junco I had seen before in southern Ontario. Karen got lots of pictures of it and since then we have been trying to get a reliable identification of it. If you have an opinion (that you can back up), I’d like to hear from you.

The last two days have been much quieter, both in terms of numbers and of variety. No more wheeling flocks of Cedar Waxwings or the myriad chips of White-throated Sparrows from the meadow and shrubbery at opening. Things are definitely winding down. On the other hand, Northern Saw-whet Owls continue to move through in good numbers.

October 25; Morning – Banded 68:
1 Downy Woodpecker
7 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
4 Hermit Thrushes
5 Cedar Waxwings
2 Northern Cardinals
3 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
10 Dark-eyed Juncos
10 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Purple Finch
22 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 36 spp.

Evening; Banded 9 Northern Saw-whet Owls.

Another first that I simply chanced upon: Orange-marbled Orb Spider -KMP


October 26th; Banded 36:
1 Mourning Dove
3 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
4 Cedar Waxwings
2 Fox Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
5 White-throated Sparrows
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Purple Finch
12 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 36 spp.

Be on the lookout!

Male Evening Grosbeak. It’s been quite a while since we saw these big “goldfinches” at Ruthven but there are reports of them recently in southern Ontario. Keep your eyes open! -FJS


Female Evening Grosbeak -FJS


Rick

October 23rd & 24th – The Dust Has Settled!

Fern Hill Oakville’s Young Ornithologist getting ready to “camp out” in the Coach House. -KAP


Sometimes, when you start something, you just never know where it might lead. When Joanne Fleet started the field studies program at Fern Hill Burlington I’m not sure she envisioned at first the development of a keen group of “Young Ornithologists”. But she saw the wisdom of doing so early on and then passed this on to Katherine Paveley when she assumed the reins of the program when Joanne left. Katherine was instrumental in cloning the program at the Oakville campus. The great thing about the school is its flexibility to put students into specialized situations that will maximize their learning in areas of great interest.

For the past two days Oakville’s Young Ornithologists have been at Ruthven learning as much as they could about birds and bird study, including banding and censusing. “Camping out” in the Coach House allowed them to spend a full day banding and then stay up late enough to do some owling…..and then get up early to spend another morning opening nets, doing net rounds, banding and scribing. Whew! Quite an exercise in experiential learning.

The students were pretty tired when they left. And we were pretty tired by the time we completed the paperwork and data input – but if you want kids to learn, this is the way to go.

And the birds co-operated! we handled 155 on the 23rd (90 banded and 65 retraps), 5 Saw-whets at night, and another 115 on the 24th (62 banded and 53 retraps): 155 banded in 2 days. That’s a LOT of learning!

October 23rd (daytime); Banded 90:

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker…..and Sonali -DOL


1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 White-breasted Nuthatch

Samuel with his “spirit bird” – a Brown Creeper. -KAP


1 Brown Creeper
1 House Wren
1 Winter Wren

For comparison: House Wren (left) and Winter Wren (right). -DOL


7 Golden-crowned Kinglet
6 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
5 Hermit Thrushes
2 Myrtle Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
6 Chipping Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
3 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
22 Dark-eyed Juncos
7 Purple Finches
1 House Finch
19 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 47 spp. (including 2 Snow Geese!)

Math teacher (and budding Young Ornithologist….well, maybe not so young….) Chris Hincks with a Northern Saw-whet he has just banded. -KAP


October 23rd (night); Banded 5 Northern Saw-whet Owls:

Chasing midnight…but still lots of smiles. And why not? We were catching Saw-whets! -DOL

October 24th; Banded 62:
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
3 Brown Creepers
6 Golden-crowned Kinglets
5 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 Hermit Thrushes
5 American Robins
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Field Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Juncos have arrived en masse. -DOL


13 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Purple Finch
1 Pine Siskin
14 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 43 spp.

Photos:

Sabriyya with a junco (one of many that we banded over the two days. -DOL


Have pliers will travel. Janice Chard. JDF


Katherine doing some teaching. -JDF


Rasha with a Dark-eyed Junco that she’s just banded. -DOL


3 owls; 3 banders: Stefan, Sonali, Samuel. -DOL


A foreign retrap – sporting a band that isn’t one of ours. -KMP


Ella with a White-breasted Nuthatch. -KAP


David Brewer, a wonderful “bird resource”, checking out an owl. -KAP


Ella with a Saw-whet she has just banded. -KAP


Elliot with one of many American Goldfinches we banded. -KAP


Ella showing a grade 2 student (also from Fern Hill) how to hold a bird in a “bander’s grip”. -KAP


Stefan getting some expert training on how to handle an owl from Nancy. -KAP


And the training paid off: Stefan with an owl he’s just banded. -KAP


Rick