September 1st – The New (Reduced) Normal

Hummingbird in heaven: Carol’s garden. -KMP

There’s an interesting concept that what children experience in the world around them provides the basis for their estimation of what is “normal”. What then is “normal” to older folks may not be so to younger ones, and vice versa. For example, when I grew up in the east end of Hamilton 0 cormorants was normal – you never saw any. Now the normal is: they’re everywhere. Where this becomes a problem is when you start to get into the area of not what is there but what should be there. Young birders see small flocks of warblers here and there for a couple of years and think that when this happens again this year it’s normal. But folks that have been around awhile and have seen warbler numbers plummet over several generations can attest to the fact that there should be a lot more. Whose idea of normal do we base conservation decisions on? And whose will we base them on 25 years from now?

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler. -ELO

I got into this train of thought today when we started off the new Fall migration monitoring season with a pretty good day. In fact, we banded 48…..a nice start. The new “generation” of young keeners were ecstatic and thought this might be a new record. Interesting…. So I went back and checked. In the couple of seasons they have been coming out, yes, this would have been a REALLY good opening day. Over the past 3 years we averaged just 20 birds per day on opening day. So 48 is a big improvement. But is it worth getting ecstatic about? Not really. Over the past 10 years it’s ranked only #4 although above the 10-year average of 39 birds. (The biggest day was in 2014 when we banded 79.)

Blackburnian Warbler. -ELO

Today’s result was a direct result of last night’s weather. The birds further north got up and moving but then ran into some rain activity in the couple of hours before sunrise bringing them down to earth. A phenomenon known as a “fallout” – and we got the advantage of it. Fallouts bring really nice variety and this is seen in the 11 species of warblers that we banded (“so start the warblers!” one of them exclaimed) and the 60 species of birds seen overall.

One of two Blue-winged Warblers banded today. -KMP

Ben Oldfield banded yesterday at Ruthven to close out his Summer before heading back to university. He had been watching the forecasts closely and felt that yesterday might have been a good day. But it wasn’t….However, I think the conditions that brought him hope were the conditions that “flushed” some of those northern migrants out of the north woods and made them available for us today. (Ben’s write-up is included below.)

Banded 48:

Tiny hummingbird bands are hard to see…..even with the bird n the hand. -KMP

2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 Blue Jay
3 Tufted Titmice
3 Black-capped Chickadees
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 House Wren
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Veery. -ELO

1 Veery
2 Gray Catbirds
2 Warbling Vireos

Liam with his 30th banded bird – Red-eyed Vireo. -JET

6 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Yellow-throated Vireo
2 Blue-winged Warblers
2 Nashville Warblers
1 Yellow Warbler
3 Chestnut-sided Warblers
2 Black-throated Blue Warblers
1 Black-throated Green Warbler
1 Blackburnian Warbler
1 Black and White Warbler

Male Canada Warbler. -KMP

2 Canada Warblers
1 American Restart
1 Common Yellowthroat
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1 Song Sparrow

ET’s: 60 spp.

Male Scarlet Tanager (based on the black (epaulettes”). -BGO

With a cold front present and light NW winds I was expecting a great day at Ruthven with lots of migrants, but they did not show up in the numbers I expected. Banded a total of 19. All would be considered local breeding birds. Migrants seen around the sight included Cape May Warbler, Black Throated Green Warbler, American Redstart and a lone Veery. Hoping that Rick and the crew can pull in some more migrants for the start of the season!

Adult Cedar Waxwing – forerunner of hordes to come? -BGO

Ruthven is a good spot to see Blue-winged Warblers from Spring through early Fall. -BGO

Benjamin Oldfield

Today’s Picture Gallery:

Darren scribing for his daughter….Nola. The family that bands together, stays together……. -DOL

Nancy’s Hummingbird banding banding always draws a crowd. -DOL

The critics give our newest development the thumbs up. Karen’s interest in insects generally and Monarchs specifically has resulted in our getting this designation. We will “band” as many Monarchs as we can. -DOL

Common Wood Nymph. -KMP

Dark Paper Wasp on Milkweed. -KMP

Io moth caterpillar. -KMP

Milkweed Tussock Moths. -KMP

Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar. -KMP

Karen’s Monarch Butterfly nursery (at her house). -KMP

This hummingbird is going through an extensive moult – note all the pin feathers. -KMP

“Is the coast clear?” two young Wild Turkeys ask before venturing out into the open. -KMP

Keen observer: local racoon. -ELO

Painted Lady. -ELO


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