April 24th & 25th – Catching Up

Beautiful male Eastern Bluebird. -RF

Ruthven – Still Trudging Along

We’re getting pretty tired of squelching through muddy trails and net lanes. And this morning, after having to scrape frost off my windshield, I had to wait to open the frozen nets on iced poles – while Myrtle Warblers frolicked above them. Ah the joys of banding in April, especially this one. When the sun did come out this morning I had hopes of the lanes drying up significantly….but we got some more rain late this afternoon and there’s more forecast tonight and tomorrow. So if April showers bring May flowers you better get ready because your garden is about to explode.

April 24th; Banded 28:
1 Downy Woodpecker

House Wrens have just arrived within the past couple of days. -RF

1 House Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Hermit Thrush
1 American Robin
1 Myrtle Warbler
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Field Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows
3 Red-winged Blackbirds

Female Brown-headed Cowbird scoping out nests she can lay an egg in. -RF

4 Brown-headed Cowbirds
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 52 spp. (including a couple of firsts – Broad-winged Hawk and Western Palm Warbler.

April 25th; Banded 15:

Banded Tree Swallow on the Butterfly Meadow rail fence. -RF

1 Tree Swallow
1 Carolina Wren

Male Myrtle Warbler. -RH

1 Myrtle Warbler
1 Field Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
6 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 44 spp.

Two of the three Purple Martins that have returned so far. -RF

The “dirty” white head tells you this Bald Eagle is almost an adult. -RF

This Osprey (on a nearby nesting platform) can often be seen fishing over the river by Ruthven. -RF

Fern Hill School – Oakville:

75 of the 126 birds we’ve banded this Spring in Oakville have been Black-capped Chickadees; 5 of these have had these white central tail feathers (rectrices). I wonder how closely they might be related….. -KAP

We had a couple of fairly cold early mornings with wind – and we don’t have much protection from it. The thing that is intriguing me at Oakville is the number of Black-capped Chickadees we’ve been banding : in April we’ve banded 75! That’s almost 60% of all the birds we’ve banded! Most of these have been carrying large fat loads that suggests that they’re migrants and “on their way”. Wouldn’t you love to know where they’re headed!? Another interesting thing is that 5 of them have had white central tail feathers. Do you think they might be related, have similar genetics? Hmmm……

April 24th; Banded 15:
1 Eastern Phoebe
9 Black-capped Chickadees
2 American Robins
1 Chipping Sparrow

Adult male Red-winged Blackbird. You don’t really appreciate how brilliant the red epaulette is until you have in your hand. -KAP

1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 34 spp.

Sonali with a Blue Jay she’s just banded. Sonali is the new banding record holder in Oakville with 107 banded birds to her credit over 2 years. -KAP

Kate with 2 Blue Jays – at least the one in her hand is a winner. -KAP

Three of Oakville’s keen Young Ornithologists: Samuel (with Phoebe), Sonali, and Andrew. -KAP

And In Other News:
Marnie and I talked with some of the staff at Suez Water Technologies in Burlington and they got interested in putting up a nestbox trail. What an enthusiastic group!! 8 boxes were up in no time….and just in time: Swallows are already checking them out!

Tree Swallow checking out the newest nestbox “trail” put up by the staff at Suez Water Treatment Technologies in Burlington. Nice going folks!!! -RW

April 23rd – Starting To Move

Very handsome male Myrtle Warbler. -NRF

Arriving at first light to open nets is challenging when the sunrise time is earlier and earlier, but so rewarding. It can be a peaceful time surrounded by bird song, possibly seeing the beauty of a sunrise and anticipating a new day of banding.

Today was a good day, with new migrants for the year that included House Wren and a Black-and-White Warbler. New for the spring season was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. It was busy with a school group visiting the banding lab that needed two rotations to accommodate the number and age span of the group. A few sprinkles of rain but not enough to worry about. The net lanes are so wet/muddy and hopefully will dry up soon! We handled a total of 43 birds.

Banded 36
1 Eastern Phoebe
3 Tree Swallow
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 House Wren
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler

Male Black & White Warbler. -NRF

1 Black-and-white Warbler
1 Chipping Sparrow
5 Field Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
4 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
14 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 40 spp.
Some photos from yesterday:

This cowbird with the coloured leg bands is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario – behavioural studies from several years ago. -HG/IT

Chipping Sparrow. -HG/IT

One of the pair of Eastern Phoebes that is nesting in the front of the Mansion. -IT/HG

Myrtle Warbler. -IT

Female (no moustache) Northern Flicker. -HG/IT

Male Red-breasted Nuthatch. -HG/IT

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker. -IT/HG

Song Sparrow really belting it out. -HG/IT

A picture from last year but so that you can get an idea of how big a Golden Eagle is……in the capable hands of Janet Snaith. -JS

Fern Hill Oakville:
We never reached the forecast high this morning – the SE wind was blowing off Lake Ontario and keeping the temperature down. There were a few really light and short-lived showers in the morning but when the heavier rain came around noon we closed up shop. On the whole, there wasn’t a lot going on although we did see the first Common Loons of the year and an American Woodcock jumped up at my feet when I was opening one of the nets in the woods. Still waiting for that first good surge of migrants….

Banded 10:
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Blue Jay
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Song Sparrow
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 35 spp.

Ruthven Ringers Fundraising Update

Hello folks, following this post from a couple of days ago about the Ruthven Ringers, we wanted to share the website where you can go to make donations online. Please click here to donate online. Note that you can assign the donation to a specific participant or leave that box blank to support the entire team. So far, we have raised $550 of our $2000 goal!

April 22nd – Earth Day

Happy faces and a bag of new bird bags – thanks Irene!! -DO

As I was walking around “the circuit” – the one-kilometer trail leading to the net lanes – I toyed with the idea of what percentage of the World’s population was aware that this was Earth Day and what it means. Sadly, I don’t think the number is very high; in fact, I would suggest that it is abysmally small. Most people really don’t give a damn. Very concerning! But I can say that the group of folks at the banding lab these days is of a different ilk – interested in and concerned about the natural world around them. And although not in the majority, they are refreshing – especially the young folks that come out to learn and to make a difference. They help temper my cynicism…and pessimism.

Liam, Eila, and Nola – the next generation of Baggers. -JET

Today’s crew of young people – skilled, knowledgeable and a lot of fun. -DOL

It was sooo nice not to have to deal with rain today! Parts of the trails and many net lanes are quagmires and will take many days of sunshine to dry out. Greg and Faye (and some of the young baggers) spent a good part of their morning (and the last of our wood chips) fixing Net Lane 8 which was both a challenge and a danger being on a slope. The good news, however, was that Joshua Thorne set a new World record score on #8 with his full-blown wipeout with a half twist. The fact that he stuck the landing brought him an almost perfect score of 9.9. The laying down of wood chips means that his record is now unassailable. Congratulations Josh!

Greg oversees a work crew – getting the last of the wood chips ready to put on Net lane 8. -FAS

Net lane 8 – safe again. -FAS

Birding-wise it was another slow day. I was hoping to see the first Common Loons of the year (it’s that time!) but none went by. And other than a Myrtle Warbler back along the Fox Den Trail and a couple of White-throated Sparrows in the tangles there were few migrants evident.

Banded 29:

The “moustache” tells you this flicker is a male. -FAS

1 Northern Flicker
3 Tree Swallows
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

2nd Brown Thrasher of the migration. -FAS

1 Brown Thrasher
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
11 American Goldfionches

ET’s: 48 spp.

The trails and net lanes are VERY muddy. We need some dry weather and sunshine. -DO

Stumpy!! This Blue Jay was originally banded in the Fall of 2015 as an adult bird. Despite having only 1 leg it has done very well. -CB

Stumpy and friend. -CB

Tufted Titmice are making themselves known right now – setting out territories. -ABC

You can see why it used to be called “yellow-shafted”. -FAS