September 27th – Lots of Firsts

Big female Merlin keeping an eye on the feeders. -J. Fleet

What a marvellous day! Not nearly the activity we witnessed yesterday but still lots happening including 5 firsts:

Banding the first Merlin caught at Ruthven.

#1 we caught and banded our first ever Merlin

Banded Merlin safely in the weighing cannister.

Detail of the Merlin's wing.

#2 Carol picked out the first Common Loon of the Fall migration while doing census.

An early Dark-eyed Junco.

#3 We caught and banded the first Dark-eyed Junco of the Fall migration.
#4 I saw the first Swamp Sparrow of the Fall while doing census.

Joanne with the first Brown Thrasher of the Fall.

#5 We caught and banded the first Brown Thrasher of the Fall and only the 2nd one ever banded here during the Fall (for some reason they’re a rarity at Ruthven during this season).

Brown Thrashers are a rarity here in the Fall.

The clear skies last night, drop in temperature, and a northerly wind all combined to induce a large contingent of migrants to continue heading south. So the area around Ruthven wasn’t nearly as busy with birds today. A good gauge is the number of birds we catch and band per 100 net hours. The rate yesterday was well over 100 whereas to day it was down to 49 birds/100 net hours. This suggests that the large number of birds around Ruthven had moved on during the night but…..the ‘new’ birds would indicate others had moved in to fill the void.

Bluebird guy Bill Read with his bake-in-a-box Apple Crisp...or maybe he bought it.

The Merlin was interesting. Bill Read, president of the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society, was visiting and he and I were sitting outside the lab at the picnic table solving the problems of the world. Bill spotted the bird, a large female, winging by heading north and pointed it out. It was very quickly out of sight on the tail of some hapless migrant and we didn’t think more about it. About 5 minutes later he came strolling into the lab carrying this bird. It had evidently turned around and came shooting down at the birds at the feeders by Net #1. As soon as it hit the net Bill was up and after it and managed to corral it before it could escape.

Banded 77:
1 Merlin
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Blue Jay
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
2 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Wood Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 Brown Thrasher
8 Cedar Waxwings
2 Nashville Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler
3 Myrtle Warblers
4 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Lincoln’s Sparrows
14 White-throated Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Purple Finch
27 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 36:
4 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush
1 Swainson’s Thrush
3 Gray Catbirds
2 Cedar Waxwings
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Myrtle Warbler
3 Blackpoll Warblers
2 Chipping Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
2 White-throated Sparrows
1 Purple finch
12 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 54 spp.
Fall Banding Total: 1,538
Year-to-Date Banding Total: 4,123

Comparison: AHY male goldfinch wing (showing Moult) top; HY male below.

Comparison: Wood Thrush (left) and Gray-cheeked Thrush.


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