September 19th – A Silver Lining….In Reverse? (Sort Of…)

Marnie with a lifer…..that she’s just banded. -KMP

You’ve all heard the old adage: every cloud has a silver lining. Well, there were no clouds today (which means few birds around) but there was a lining: the capture and banding of an American Woodcock! We’re lucky if we catch one a year; this was the year and it provided a very nice banding “tick” for Marnie.

“Our” flock of 7 Wild Turkeys strolling beside the Butterfly Meadow….without, seemingly, a care in the world. -CAJ

And there was another “lining”. The term “habituate” (according to the Compact Oxford English Dictionary) means “make or become accustomed to something”. For 4 summers I helped in a study on Common Eiders on East Bay Island at the north end of Hudson’s Bay. If anyone of us got within 150 m of the colony all the birds would take flight. After that I spent 2 summers on Svalbard working on Thick-billed Murres. However, when I was in town (Longyearbyen) I had to walk around Common Eiders which didn’t care a damn about the presence of people. They were used to them – had habituated. At the end of the nesting season folks would gather the down from their nests for clothing and sleeping bags, etc. It was a lot easier to collect down from local, unfrightened birds than have to hike out into the frozen wilderness for it.This caused me to wonder whether we could get the East Bay Island eiders to relax if we simply walked through the colony every day following the same route. At first they would bolt but if no harm came their way I’ll bet, after a few generations, they too would just sit there. It would make the study of them much easier.

There was always one bird keeping watch. -CAJ

Wild Turkeys are notoriously difficult to hunt because they’re incredibly wary. At the sight of a human they scurry for cover. But at Ruthven, close to the Mansion, there is a flock of 7 Wild Turkeys that wanders about and doesn’t seem to perturbed by human presence. Doing a net round this morning we came upon them strolling beside the Butterfly Meadow. We got within 15 m of them and witnessed NO panic; they just kept doing what they were doing (in this case eating the fruit of Gray Dogwood). They seem to be habituating to our presence. We began to wonder if we could ever get them to the point of eating cracked corn from our hands…..

Banded 26:

American Woodcock. -KMP

Woodcock upper wing. -KMP

Woodcock underwing. -KMP

1 American Woodcock
1 Blue Jay
2 Veerys
2 Gray Catbirds
1 Warbling Vireo
5 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Magnolia Warbler

Rhapsody in blue: Black-throated Blue Warbler, blue Jay. -MMG

1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler. -KMP

1 Ovenbird
2 Common Yellowthroats
7 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
1 Song Sparrow

ET’s: 44 spp.

Karen’s Kreeping Korner:

Katydid…missing its back left leg. (Run-in with a Praying Mantis?) -MMG

Painted Lady. -KMP


September 18th – Aflockalypse 2: The Grackling

Just art of a huge flock of grackles passing by. -KMP

Today’s title was coined by Karen after checking out the huge flocks of Common Grackles that were flying back and forth and all over most of the morning. I would love to know what they’re feeding on.

Western Honeybee taking advantage of the goldenrod. -KMP

Weatherwise it is was a beautiful day and because it was the banding was pretty boring – not a lot of birds around. Some quality but not much quantity. On the other hand, the Butterfly Meadow is just alive with stuff. Along the paths if you stop and just listen you can hear all kinds of bees as they move through the goldenrod and asters. Butterflies abound. You know, at one time the Ruthven board wanted to turn that meadow into a manicured lawn. It was described as just a big old “weed field”. But when I suggested that they simply needed to reframe it so that it was a “field of wildflowers” – hey! a butterfly meadow – they thankfully went with it.

Common Eastern Bumblebee. -KMP

The 5 Red-eyed Vireos that we banded today brings our Fall total up to 111 – a new record for us. The old record was 101 set in 2015.

Banded 33:
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Gray-cheeked Thrush. -KMP

2 Gray-cheeked Thrushes
2 Swainson’s Thrushes
4 Gray Catbirds
5 Red-eyed Vireos

Male Magnolia Warbler. -KMP

5 Magnolia Warblers

Young male Black-throated Blue Warbler. -KMP

1 Black-throated Blue Warbler

Female American Redstart. -KMP

1 American Redstart
8 Common Yellowthroats
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Scarlet Tanager
2 Song Sparrows

ET’s: 52 spp.

Karen’s Kreeping Korner:

The two spots on the wings indicate that this Monarch Butterfly is a male. -KMP

Clouded Sulphur. -KMP

Mantis on the prowl. -KMP

Northern Crescent Butterfly. -KMP

Two Ruby Meadowhawks……frolicking. -KMP


September 17th – Aflockalypse Now

Just a very few of a stream of Common Grackles that went by. -JDF

It had all the makings of a good horror flick – myriads of large black birds in the tops of the trees, cackling back and forth (a cacophony one pundit called it), staring down at us with beady yellow eyes ready to pounce with large rapier-like bills. They’d go for the eyes first and then finish us off…..For the last week or so we’ve witnessed VERY large flocks of Common Grackles going over, leaving their roost first thing in the morning, heading out to feed. Last week we counted over 5000. This morning there were well over 1500 that settled in the trees just in front of the Mansion stripping them of any food they contained – fruit and/or insects – before heading to another patch. We caught and banded 13 of them. I’m glad there weren’t more as they’re a touch bird to extract holding on tight with very strong feet and, often, getting their tongues caught necessitating great care.

Although not as busy as the last couple of days we still had a good movement of migrants to deal with:

Banded 43:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird….just banded. -JDF

1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Eastern Wood-pewee

Lots of Blue Jays around – it’s hard to get a good count as they move around so much. -JNJ

1 Blue Jay
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 Swainson’s Thrushes
3 Gray Catbirds
3 Warbling Vireos
3 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
2 Magnolia Warblers
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
2 Blackpoll Warblers
3 Common Yellowthroats

For comparison: 2 Scarlet Tanagers. Female on the left (olive shoulder); male on the right (black shoulder). -DOL

3 Scarlet Tanagers
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
13 Common Grackles

ET’s: 53 spp.
Additional Pics:

Joanne showing that she hasn’t lost her touch. -NRF

Nancy getting a hummingbird band ready (or darning socks, I’m not sure which). -JDF

Black-throated Green Warbler. -ELO

Adult Cedar Waxwing moulting wing feathers. -ELO

Karen’s Kreeping Korner:

White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar. -MB

Pearl Crescent Butterfly. -KMP

American Rubyspot. -DG

Green Darner (I think…?) -EB


September 16th – The Flow Continues

A great group of both young and…..more mature enthusiasts. Front row (from left): Eila, Aliya, Nola; back row: Darren, Rob, and Methusalah, I mean Bill. -NRF

Just after six o’clock as I was opening the front gate, a young Great Horned Owl was calling. I found it perched in a tree and it took flight just before I started up the driveway! This would be my first observation to start the morning.

The weather stayed overcast for most of the day and there was a nice mix of warblers to handle and also, the first small hit of Cedar Waxwings. Our fingers didn’t suffer too much with a good number of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. We handled 82 birds today with a great crew of young people helping in all aspects of the program.

Banded 66:
1 Eastern Wood-Peewee
1 House Wren
1 Veery
9 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
8 Cedar Waxwing
1 Warbling Vireo
9 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Nashville Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler. -NRF

1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
9 Magnolia Warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler. -NRF

3 Black-throated Green Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler. -NRF

2 Blackburnian Warbler

Two Bay-breasted Warblers – note the variation in the amount of bay (brown) on the flanks. -NRF

2 Bay-breasted Warbler
3 American Redstart
1 Ovenbird
4 Common Yellowthroat
7 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
1 Song Sparrow

ET’s: 41 spp.

Fern Hill School – Oakville Campus:

Sam with the Wilson’s Warbler. -KAP

There was a nice flow of warblers along the woods beside the cemetery and a few of them even found their way into some nets – but we caught only a small proportion of what was there (frustratingly!).
Banded 13:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Nashville Warblers
2 Magnolia Warblers

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler – likely on its way to a Caribbean island. -KAP

1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Black & White Warbler

Young male Wilson’s Warbler. -KAP

1 Wilson’s Warbler
3 Song Sparrows
1 Brown-headed Cowbird

ET’s: 34 spp.