May 21st & 22nd – Catching Up As We Wind Down

Madison was all smiles as she got to process this retrap
hummingbird. -MAS

Ruthven Park:
May 21st:
The temperatures were cool at opening so the warmth of the early morning sunrise felt good. A total of 65 birds were handled today with a nice mix of species! The highlight was catching a Ruby-throated Hummingbird retrap that was originally banded on June 30, 2018. Madison did a great job processing her first hummingbird. Madison and Jason have been a great addition to our banding program this season. They’ve absorbed every opportunity to learn and I’ve enjoyed their enthusiasm! Thanks for all of your help and staying longer today.
Banded 41:
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 Blue Jay
1 House Wren
8 Gray Catbird

Philadelphia Vireo. -MAS

1 Philadelphia Vireo
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Blue-winged Warbler
2 Tennessee Warbler
5 Yellow Warbler

Blackburnian Warblers: female (left), male (right). -MAS

2 Blackburnian Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Young male Indigo Bunting (notice all the brown blotching). -MAS

1 Indigo Bunting
1 Song Sparrow
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
3 Baltimore Oriole
3 Orchard Oriole
3 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 48 species

Michael, new education co-ordinator, with his first banded bird. -NRF

May 22nd:
Priceless. Throughout the month, we’ve watched our Purple Martin colony grow and now, there’s 24 adults! On site, there’s an 18 gourd structure and two 24-unit apartments. There’s been a preference to the gourds and if you visit the park, you’ll see a number of them perched on the gourd racks that are positioned above the gourds. Today, I observed the adults flying south to the back fields gathering nesting material. It was a steady movement watching them fly back and fourth with grassy material in their beaks. Nest building also includes the use of mud to build a slight wall immediately inside the hole that gradually slopes back toward the rear of the compartment. Towards the completion of the nest and continuing until the eggs hatch, they’ll fly to the willow tree next to the lab to gather green leaves to line the cup of the nest.

Gorgeous male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. -JWC

A fun time in the banding lab today. I set the Hall Trap up for humming birds and Madison was successful in catching two birds. Her first attempt at catching a hummingbird failed but she did catch her first Baltimore Oriole in the trap. Patiently she waited, and then from within the banding lab I heard her yell my name when she caught her first Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It was a male retrap, originally banded at Ruthven on May 12, 2018!

Running the Hall trap:

Hall trap with the mesh sides raised and the trigger line going back to a “poised” Madison. -MAS

Madison on the alert for a bird to enter the Hall trap. When it does she will release the string, dropping the mesh sides around the bird. -MAS

Madison…..obviously enjoying herself. -MAS

First bird caught in the Hall trap was……NOT a hummingbird but this female oriole. -MAS

Hummingbird in the Hall trap. -MAS

A successful capture. -MAS

We handled 73 birds today and we had a number of visitors who enjoyed seeing the variety of warblers.
Banded 44:
2 Traill’s Flycatcher
1 Least Flycatcher

Female Tree Swallow. -JWC

1 Tree Swallow
1 American Robin
3 Gray Catbird
1 Philadelphia Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo. -MAS

1 Red-eyed Vireo
2 Blue-winged Warbler
5 Tennessee Warbler
2 Orange-crowned Warbler
5 Yellow Warbler

Male Chestnut-sided Warbler -JWC

4 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler

Male Blackburnian. -NRF

2 Blackburnian Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat

Male Wilson’s Warbler. -MAS

1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
4 Baltimore Oriole
2 Orchard Oriole
4 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 67 species

Fern Hill School – Oakville Campus:

Katherine with itinerant teacher Holly Brose with Holly’s first banded bird: American Goldfinch. -JJC

On both days birds continued to filter through the area. Some were unobtrusive while others, like Blue Jays, were quite obvious. I would love to know where these jays are going. We see them each Spring heading over the school in a ENE direction and all I can see lying ahead of them is the skyline of Mississauga, just on the other side of Hwy 403, about 400 meters from the school. In the Fall we will watch them coming back – from Mississauga, heading WSW. Would be a great species to radio track…..

May 21st; Banded 23:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Least Flycatcher
2 Black-capped Chickadees (bringing our Spring total to >90!)
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 House Wren
1 Swainson’s Thrush
2 Gray Catbirds
2 Warbling Vireos
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Yellow Warbler
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
2 Common Grackles
3 Baltimore Orioles
3 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 43 spp.

This Killdeer has established a nest just outside the JK play area and under a spruce tree! -KAP

May 22nd; Banded 18:
1 Downy Woodpecker
5 Blue Jays
1 Red-eyed Vireo

Rasha releasing a Common Yellowthroat. -KAP

2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Canada Warbler
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird
2 Common Grackles
1 House Finch
3 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 43 spp.

Suez Site – May 22nd:

A clutch of Tree Swallow eggs at one of the Suez boxes. -RW

A quick update on how things are going – we’re still finding some dead
tree swallows in our nest boxes – we had one more today. I was a bit
surprised since the weather was so good over the weekend. On the bright
side we have our first batch of eggs! So far we have 3 nests, with 2
still being built and this one with eggs in it. No sign of anything but
tree swallows in the nest boxes, but a small group of us have been out
at least once a week making entries in ebird. Now that I’m really
paying attention (and have a few extra eyes, and binoculars, and we’re
venturing a bit off the normal trails) I’m starting to see some species
I’ve never seen before. Last week was particularly good, we saw:
1 turkey vulture
2 red tailed hawks
1 red-bellied woodpecker
1 downy woodpecker
1 northern flicker
1 hairy woodpecker
1 great crested flycatcher
3 blue jays
8 tree swallows (the usual crew hanging out around the nest boxes)
3 gold finches
4 red winged black birds

Ruthven isn’t the only place with Baltimore Orioles. This one was “captured” in the woods at the Suez site. -RW

Not too bad for a quick walk! In the prior week we also saw a male and
female baltimore oriole hanging around.

We’ll keep close tabs on the nests and let you know what happens from here.

Rick Walpole

May 20th – Winding Down

Male Eastern Bluebird among the blossoms. -CRintoul

It’s hard to believe but our migration monitoring is five sixths done! Where has the time gone? And just think of the huge biomass that has passed by in the last 50 days. Staggering!

You could feel today that we are on the down side of the slope – fewer birds along the net lanes and in the woods. Many species represented by just a single bird or a couple. In many species, females have replaced males as the latter tend to push through earlier in order to carve out territories before the females arrive. The local long-distance migrant breeders have largely paired up and many have started nest construction. It happens so fast.

Yellow Warblers are losing no time getting down to it. Here a female is well on the way to forming her nest. -CRintoul

After a dismal April (one of the worst ever in terms of banding numbers), we rebounded in May. The average daily catch for the 1st 10 days of May was 59, well above the average (going back to 2011) of 42.3. The average daily catch for this most recent 10-day stretch was 46, slightly higher than the average of 44.6.

SY male Orchard Oriole. -CRintoul

We continued to catch and band Baltimore Orioles, reaching and then surpassing the 100 bird mark. We finished the day with 102, exactly double our next highest year.

Banded 34:
1 Eastern Wood-pewee

Eastern Kingbird showing off its red crest. -ELO

1 Eastern Kingbird
1 House Wren

Cedar Waxwings are checking out the flowering Serviceberry trees. -MAS

1 Cedar Waxwing
2 Blue-winged Warblers

Female Tennessee Warbler. -MAS

1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Northern Parula
6 Yellow Warblers

Nola and Madison with Magnolia Warblers. -ELO

2 Magnolia Warblers

Female American Redstart. (Compare with the SY male shown yesterday.). -MAS

2 American Redstarts

Female Common Yellowthroat. -MMG

1 Common Yellowthroat

Female Northern Cardinal. -MAS

1 Northern Cardinal
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (bringing our total to 75 (vs old record of 61)
1 Chipping Sparrow

Baltimore Oriole #100!! -MAS

5 Baltimore Orioles
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 68 spp.
More pictures:

Bald Eagle trying to drop on a beaver; it ran out from under and up the bank. -ELO

The eagle pair waiting for another opportunity at the beaver – one above and one on the ground. -ELO

Brewster’s Warbler – originally banded 2 years ago. -ELO

Four young Double-crested Cormorants at the head of Slink Island. -ELO

The shape of the outer primary, compared with the image in Pyle, indicates that this Eastern Kingbird is an ASY male. -ELO

Tree Swallow – the ones at Ruthven seem to be particularly photogenic. -ELO

Young male Magnolia Warbler. -MAS

Another look at that Magnolia Warbler. -MAS

Tufted Titmouse about ready to let those fingers know it’s not happy. -ELO

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird displaying the length of its tongue – good for getting nectar from tubular flowers (and feeders). -MAS

Grunt work(er). Thanks Josh!! -MMG

ASY male Orchard Oriole at the hummingbird feeder. -MMG

Our Purple Martin colony numbered 24 birds this morning. The clear preference for nesting is these gourds (vs the aluminum apartment complexes). -MMG


May 19th – A Summer Day

Our Tequila Sunrise event was a big hit but if you didn’t get there early….. -AT

It was just 7 degrees when we were opening nets but by late morning it was 27 (and even higher with the humidex)! The SW winds and sunshine did a good job drying up some of the net lanes and paths. What a quagmire the grounds have been this Spring – more like rice paddies than lawns and meadows. Despite the drying, we started to lay down wood chips. Sort of an exercise in closing the gate after the cows are gone but…..they will be better able to handle future rains (like the one falling right now).

Amy’s delicious butter tarts make for a good morning. -AT

Wayne Gretzky is touted as being the greatest hockey player of all time. Some think that his scoring records will never be beaten. But does that mean that players shouldn’t try!? Of course not. Gretzky merely set a standard for others to strive to attain. That’s hockey. The same could be said for butter tarts. I have mentioned in a number of posts that Dorothy Smith makes the world’s best butter tarts. But in saying that I’m sort of throwing out a challenge: take it on, try to better her feat. This morning it was Amy Thorne that took up the gauntlet. Her tarts were exceptionally good and her pastry ranks right up there with the best. She wanted an “honest” appraisal….so here’s how things stand. Dorothy is still on top. She is followed closely by Carla (of Bahr Saddlery) who is herself followed closely by Amy. But it is really tight: only a few calories separate the three.

We continued to catch and band at a moderate rate – this kind of weather does NOT make for good catching at Ruthven. We continue to increase the record numbers of 3 species: we banded another 4 Baltimore Orioles bringing the total to 97 (old record was 51); 3 more Rose-breasted Grosbeaks gives us 67 (vs 61); and 3 Orchard Orioles pushes that total to 19 (vs 16).

There was a noticeable drop in warbler species today – we recorded only 7 species. However, we did see our first cuckoo of the year, a Black-billed Cuckoo. They’re pretty late getting here.

Banded 52:
1 Traill’s Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher “snapping” its bill to intimidate us. -MAS

1 Great Crested Flycatcher

Female Tree Swallow. -MAS

1 Tree Swallow
1 Blue Jay
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
5 Gray Catbird
1 Red-eyed Vireo
12 Yellow Warblers

Male Magnolia Warbler. -MAS

4 Magnolia Warblers

Male Canada Warbler. -MAS

2 Canada Warblers

A young (SY) male American Redstart; the black patches are just the beginning of the moult that will eventually result in the characteristic orange and black basic plumage. -MAS

1 American Redstart

Another look at the young male redstart. -MAS

2 Common Yellowthroats
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
2 Indigo Buntings
1 Chipping Sparrow
3 Song Sparrows
1 Red-winged Blackbird
4 Baltimore Orioles

Liam with his first Orchard Oriole. -JET

1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 62 spp.

May 18th – Quality Not Quantity

A “skulker” – this Canada Warbler works its way through a juniper. -LI

We weren’t particularly busy today, or, at least, it didn’t “feel” busy. But if you put in the work there were birds to be found. In fact, by the end of the morning we had rung up 79 species. But many of these were in small numbers or were singles. Still, a species is a species and when you’re counting every one adds up. The relaxed pace was ideal for teaching the younger aficionados the skills of extracting and banding and we had a good number of skilled adults to oversee their efforts – so a good morning all round.

Caught on hidden camera, wood pixies frolic in the meadow. -AT

The other day Carol left some feathers for the Tree Swallows so we went out to entice them. What fun! The swallows swoop in to snatch them out of the air. They’ll chase each other until one drops the feather at which point another will tear in to grab it before it can hit the ground. Tree Swallows line their nests with feathers. Over the years we have seen a very strange assortment of them in various nests and they’ve left us scratching our heads as to what kinds of birds they have come from and how the swallows managed to get them.

Throwing caution….and feathers….to the wind. Nesting material for the Tree Swallows. -AT

Banded 44:
1 Mourning Dove

Nola with a Downy Woodpecker she’s just processed. -ELO

1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Usually a bird of the treetops: Great Crested Flycatcher. -ELO

1 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 House Wren
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 American Robin
3 Gray Catbirds

Brown Thrasher. -MAS

1 Brown Thrasher
2 Warbling Vireo
1 Nashville Warbler

For comparison: female Yellow Warbler on the left, male on the right. -ELO

10 Yellow Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler

ASY male American Redstart. -JWC

1 American Redstart
2 Common Yellowthroat
6 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (bringing our total to 70; old record was 61)
1 Song Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow

Another “stumpy” – a young male Red-winged Blackbird missing its left foot. The bird was otherwise in good shape. -MAS

2 Red-winged Blackbirds
4 Baltimore Orioles (bringing our total to 93; old record was 51)
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 79 spp.
More Pictures:

“Liam, if you hold this Rose-breasted Grosbeak right……no pain. If you do it wrong…..pain…..great pain” -JET

No pain! -JET

Female Red-winged Blackbird in the meadow. -AT

Female Blue-winged Warbler with an aberrant black feather on its head. -ELO

Grey head, white eye ring, yellow underneath…..Nashville Warbler. -ELO

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker. -ELO

Striking male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (well named!). -ELO

Tufted Titmouse. -ELO

Male Magnolia Warbler. -JWC

We have a good population of Yellow-throated Vireos nesting around the site. -JET

Male Chestnut-sided Warbler. -JWC