May 27th – A Slow Day

An exciting returnee: this female Ruby-throated Hummingbird was banded on August 24, 2017 by Alessandra Wilcox (under Nancy’s tutelage) and was recovered today in Net 1 right beside the lab.

When the first net round of the day – the one that is usually the most exciting – yields only 1 bird you know that you are in for a slow day. And we were. There didn’t seem to be any migrants – just birds that were likely to breed locally. The next 4 days might bring a few more latecomers but the main movement is done.

Josh Robertson demonstrating some of his equipment for the Young Women in Science group. -N. Campbell

Josh Robertson explaining his research to some future scientists. -N. Campbell

Banded 13:
2 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers

A late migrant: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. -MMG

1 Traill’s flycatcher
1 Gray Catbird
3 Cedar Waxwings
1 Blue-winged Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird

ET’s: 57 spp.

Inspired by the visiting group of Young Women in Science, our own resident women scientists conducted an experiment of their own – finding the optimum scoop size of hummus per chip. I think the jury is still out on this one…..funding for more study is urgently needed. -DOL

This male Eastern Bluebird has been quite successful in holding onto this nest box despite harassment by Tree Swallows. The bluebird pair has 5 young. -KMP

The two young robins from the gazebo nest that we banded are continuing to do well, despite the big wedding reception last night. -KMP

ASY male Orchard Oriole. -KMP

Male bluebird in a sycamore. -KMP


May 26th – Quietening Down

First we heard this Mourning Warbler around net 10 and then caught it about an hour later…in the same net. A lovely male. -MMG

Don’t get me wrong: the dawn chorus is still pretty impressive. What a pleasure it is to stroll around the net paths opening nets before the sun gets up and listen to the birds. But once the sun cracks the horizon the chorus drops off quickly….though not completely. Visitors ask: where have all the Baltimore Orioles (or grosbeaks or song sparrows or….) gone. Well, they haven’t gone anywhere; they’re still here; but once territories have been sorted out and nesting begins they get a lot quieter.
Birds don’t fool around; they get right down to it. What intrigues me is that while some long-distance migrants are busy making nests (some are even laying eggs), others are still on the move and have a long way to go to get to their typical home range.

Dorothy, with daughters Dianne and Joanne, on their annual Spring Birding Pilgrimage. They’ve topped 200 species for southern Ontario this season alone. -DOL

Banded 35:
4 Traill’s Flycatchers
5 Eastern Bluebirds
1 American Robin
6 Cedar Waxwings
1 Warbling Vireo
1 Blue-winged Warbler
6 Yellow Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler

A nice surprise: male Black-throated Green Warbler. We don’t expect to see these this late in the migration. -KMP

1 Black-throated Green Warbler
1 Mourning Warbler
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Indigo Bunting
2 Song Sparrows
2 Baltimore Orioles
2 American Goldfinches

Upon seeing news that a Red-tailed Hawk had been hit on highway 6, Marnie and Karen leapt into action. They drove to the approximate spot, found the bird and then took it to Hobbitsee, the local rehabilitator. It appears to be recovering. -MMG

ET’s: 58 spp.

May 25th – Lovely Day For A Picnic

Trying to decide….there was so much good food it was hard to know where to begin. -RF

A Summer day: clear blue skies and hot. In fact, it was hot by about 9:00. Having seen this forecast a few days ago we figured it would be a good day for a picnic – to relax, eat (great food), and reflect, a little, on the 2018 Spring migration which is quickly drawing to a close. Banding-wise it was an interesting day as we were getting long-distance migrants, who still had a long way to go before nesting, at the same time we were banding the first hatchlings of the year – robins and bluebirds. Many females of locally-breeding migrants that we’re catching are carrying eggs. We will finish on May 31st and let them get to it unharried by us.

Rick with 2 cuckoos. -JDF

Banded 42:
1 Black-billed Cuckoo
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
2 Traill’s Flycatchers
5 Eastern Bluebirds
2 Swainson’s Thrushes
2 American Robins
2 Gray Catbirds
5 Cedar Waxwings
1 Warbling Vireo
1 Blue-winged Warbler
1 Tennessee Warbler

Brilliant male Yellow Warbler. -MMG

4 Yellow Warblers
3 Common Yellowthroats
1 Wilson’s Warbler

Natasha with a male Wilson’s Warbler. -JDF

1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1 Indigo Bunting
3 Song Sparrows
1 Baltimore Oriole
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 67 spp.

Tick just above the eye of this male Common Yellowthroat. -KMP

After the removal of the tick this Common Yellowthroat shows no ill effects. -JDF

Female Common Yellowthroat with a tick above the eye and another on the gape. -MMG

New birding/banding enthusiast, Natasha, learning the bander’s grip. -JDF

Nancy and Natasha banding a clutch of young bluebirds. -JDF

Young Eastern Bluebird trying to figure out just what the heck is going on……. -MMG

Mother bluebird watching the antics of the banders. She quickly returned to the nest box when we were done to make sure everything was OK.

Karen, the Blue Jay fan: hope springs eternal…. -RF

One of the two young robins from the gazebo nest. -KMP

Last round done and the nets are closed….time for a picnic. –RF

Marnie and Irene – two people that make good things happen. -RF

May 22nd-24th – Bottleneck

ASY male Baltimore Oriole taking advantage of the feeders. -H. GEYER

It’s been a hectic 3 days complicated by a change in the server hosting the blog, the reason I haven’t been able to post. In the meantime people have sent me scads of photos (most of them really good) to help with my posts. So I’ll just list off birds banded and ET’s (with just a little commentary) and put up some of the photos.

May 22nd; Ruthven Park Banding Station:
We had a good day with the overcast weather and intermittent showers. We handled a beautiful mix of warblers, plus a variety of other species that ranged in size. The species that we could hear or see around the banding lab and along the net lanes included cuckoos, warblers, orioles, Cedar Waxwings and our colony of Purple Martins just to name a few!

Banded 39
1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo
1 Hairy Woodpecker
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
4 Gray Catbird
1 Cedar Waxwing
2 Red-eyed Vireo
2 Tennessee Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
2 Chestnut-sided Warbler
3 Magnolia Warbler
4 Bay-breasted Warbler
4 Blackpoll Warbler
1 American Redstart
1 Northern Waterthrush
1 Common Yellowthroat
2 Indigo Bunting
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 Baltimore Oriole
4 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 69 species

May 22nd; Fern Hill Oakville:
Rain tapered off early and we ran nets through the morning. The most interesting catch was a Killdeer(!) that flew into a net close to some trees. Couldn’t figure out what it was up to…..
Banded 19:
1 Killdeer
1 Blue Jay
2 American Robins
1 Tennessee Warbler
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
5 Common Grackles
1 Orchard Oriole
1 House Finch
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 41 spp.

May 23rd; Ruthven Park:

Note the complete eye-ring of this male Connecticut Warbler. -L. ISAACS

Beautiful weather! The day got off to a great start when I heard a Connecticut Warbler singing around nets 6A/7 and then found it in #7 on the first net round. This is only the 2nd one banded in the Spring at Ruthven!

Banded 36:
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Blue Jay
1 Tufted Titmouse
1 Swainson’s Thrush
2 Gray Catbirds

Cedar Waxwings have arrived in big numbers in the last few days. -R. Fotheringham

12 Cedar Waxwings
1 Philadelphia Vireo
1 Tennessee Warbler
2 Magnolia Warblers
2 Blackpoll Warblers
2 Canada Warblers
3 American Redstarts
2 Ovenbirds
1 Connecticut Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 American Goldfinch
1 House Sparrow

ET’s: 72 spp.

May 23rd; Ruthven – Evening:
Michelle Karam visited tonight with 2 of her students to try and catch and band bats. Sian Ford and I tagged along (me just until it got dark….something to do with the need for beauty sleep…). While waiting for it to get dark Sian opened Net 7 in the hope of netting some of the Common Nighthawks that were flying around. The nighthawks were too high but she did get a new Brown Thrasher and 2 retrapped Brewster’s/Blue-winged Warbler, a male and female, probably a mated pair. Later Michelle did get a bat – a Big Brown Bat – and banded it.

While waiting for bats, Sian caught this pair of warblers: female Blue-winged Warbler (top) and male Brewster’s Warbler (below); probably a mated pair. -SEF

Big Brown Bat in an aerial net. -SEF

Bat in the hand…..not quite as cute as a bird. -SEF

May 24th; Ruthven Park:
Early morning net rounds are made with anticipation wondering how busy it might be but also, wondering what species we’ll see and what will be new for the season. Today, the first net round was very exciting when I had one male Mourning Warbler that was new for the season and before I finished checking all of the nets, there was a second one, this time a female. Last year, only one was banded in the spring. The weather stayed cool through the morning, and it was a good day with a great diversity of bands handled.

Banded 38
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 Traill’s Flycatcher
1 Least Flycatcher
1 House Wren
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
5 Gray Catbird
8 Cedar Waxwing
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Yellow Warbler
5 Magnolia Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler

Female Black & White Warbler (throat isn’t black). -NRF

1 Black-and-White Warbler
1 Canada Warbler
1 American Redstart
1 Northern Waterthrush

Male Mourning Warbler. -NRF

2 Mourning Warbler
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Indigo Bunting
3 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 65 species

May 24th: Fern Hill Oakville:
We had a good day at Fern Hill as we banded 15 species including 2 Bobolinks. There’s a big group of them in the weedy field just to the south of the school’s playing field. We had to close up somewhat early as the Parent’s Committee was putting on a Teacher Appreciation Luncheon, a.k.a. feast. I did my best to show my appreciation.

Banded 24:
1 Mourning Dove
2 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers
1 Blue Jay
1 Black-capped Chickadee
4 Gray Catbirds
1 Cedar Waxwing
3 Red-eyed Vireos
2 Northern Waterthrushes
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Song Sparrow
2 Bobolinks
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Baltimore Oriole
1 American Goldfinch
1 House Sparrow

ET’s: 37 spp.


The Eastern Bluebirds have persisted, quietly but firmly, in maintaining possession of their nest boxes. -H. GEYER

This female Baltimore Oriole was hatched in 2008 and banded in May of 2009 making her just under 10 years old!! -KMP

Tia (who does NOT go to Harvard) with a Gray Catbird. -FAS

Female Northern Cardinals simply blend into the shrubbery. -H. GEYER

Tessa helping a young enthusiast with holding a bird. -H. GEYER

Female Tree Swallow on the lookout….. -H. GEYER

Male Yellow Warbler in new foliage. -H. GEYER

Female Blackpoll Warblers look nothing like their male counterpart… the Spring. –KMP

Female Canada Warbler. -KMP

Red-eyed Vireos have finally returned in good numbers and can be heard singing from multiple locations. -KMP

Yellow-billed Cuckoos will be feasting on the tent caterpillars that seem to be around in good numbers. -KMP

The broad rufous wing panels help identify this as a Yellow-billed Cuckoo – even if you can’t see the bill. -KMP

Nancy (left) coaching Sian through the banding of her first hummingbird. -LEO

Female Mourning Warbler – looks much like a Connecticut Warbler but lacks a complete white eye-ring. -NRF

Eastern Kingbird. -RF