September 6th – Puttering Along

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – one of two “firsts” for the season.; the other was a Gray-cheeked Thrush. CAJ

We’ve never had Wild Turkeys around the site like we do right now. Across the highway in the soya bean fields I’ve seen wintering flocks of up to 78 birds but around the Mansion not many if any at all. But for the last few days people driving in have reported flocks of as many as 10 birds along the laneway. Today I saw a hen with a very young chick along the trail leading to net 8. Then, while doing census, I observed 8 flying across the river from the west side to the Mansion side. And still on census, I was startled by another 7 as they exploded from the Carolinian Trail below net 4 not more than 10 meters from me. They’re an awesome bird to see up close (or even at a distance).

Again, banding was fairly slow although there was a fair amount of activity high up above the nets – the birds really seem to like the big willow just outside the banding lab. It was nice to get two firsts for the season: Yellow-bellied flycatcher and Gray-cheeked Thrush (the thrush was the first for the year). I really like Gray-cheeks; they intrigue me. One Fall we had the 2nd heaviest in the world (to that point anyway). It weighed 52.1 grams, double its non-fat weight. It easily had enough stored energy to carry it non-stop to its winter home in the Amazon rain forest. It was around for about 10 days and each day we caught it, it was putting on weight. But then a cold, high pressure front moved through with NW winds and we didn’t see it again. I’m sure the wind gave it the lift it needed to hoist that weight off the ground and get it going. Another intriguing thought about this species is that there’s a very real possibility that the bird could have originated as far NW as the Northwest Territories or even Alaska. In the Fall migration these birds head SE first until they get to the Ontario vicinity and then head South. Just something to think about the next time you see one…..

Banded 28:
1 Mourning Dove
3 Northern Flickers
3 Eastern Wood Peewees
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 House Wren
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 Warbling Vireo
3 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Blue-winged Warbler
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
2 American Redstarts
3 Common Yellowthroats
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
2 Song Sparrows

ET’s: 45 spp.

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