April 10th – A Hiatus

Thanks to Rob and his chainsaw, we managed to put up Net #5 – it looks like it will be quite productive. DOL

We started Spring banding early on the premise that beginning on the traditional date of April 1st did not reflect the “new reality” of climate change – that birds were moving earlier. So, March 23rd it was. And we banded pretty steadily up until the 8th after which time I had to head out to Halifax to do 3 weeks of seabird counts in the North Atlantic for the CWS. But…banding will not come to a complete stop as Sarah has volunteered to be the BIC (Bander-in-Charge) for a number of days and Martin Wernhart and Teri Groh will take over on another day. That’s a good thing as we’ve been catching consistently – by the end of the day on the 8th we had reached 309 birds. And as a treat on that day, we banded the 1st Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Savannah Sparrow of the migration.

1st Ruby-crowned Kinglet. DOL

1st Savannah Sparrow. DOL

April 8th; Banded 16:
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 American Goldfinches
1 Savannah Sparrow
1 American Tree Sparrow
3 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
4 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Common Grackle

Totality. -GRL

And, oh yes, something else happened on the 8th – a full solar eclipse. Initially, when I had first heard about it, I thought: so what’s the big deal? Well, my friends, it IS a big deal! What an experience!! Nighttime in the afternoon isn’t something I’ll forget. Even the birds stopped singing for about 10 minutes – it looked like night to them too.

April 6th & 7th – Fluctuations

Cattails in the early morning light. -CL

It’s interesting how migration sees the ebb and flow of birds. Yesterday (the 6th) we were quite busy…and so were the birds. After a slow start (as the birds were waiting for things to warm up), there was a fairly constant flow of birds along the pond/woodland edge and between the prairie field and the pond edge. American Goldfinches and especially Golden-crowned Kinglets seemed to be everywhere. This morning it was much slower and there was barely a single Kinglet to be seen. With last night’s clear skies and light winds I’m sure they took off for the north. I hope they cleared The GTA! This was quite likely as the many we banded were carrying good fat loads, a strong indicator that, should conducive flying conditions prevail, birds would be on the wing.

The Kinglets left but some new birds moved in (although not in big numbers…yet): an Osprey and a couple of Savannah Sparrows, the first for the year here.

On both days we got considerable help from keen groups of volunteers:

Group 1 – April 6th: Jacoba, Renessa, Rob, Isabel, Sadie, Kip, Micah. -DOL

Group 2 – April 7th: Kip, Rob, Isabel, Sadie, Christine, Liam Sam. -DOL

Having skilled volunteers to take care of the nets gave me a chance to work with “newbies” to develop useful skills that may come in useful to them and to us down the road.

After 2 intense days, Sadie has become a very competent scribe – and we all know that a good scribe runs the show. -RJV

Although new to the banding experience, Jacoba shows great promise. -RJV

April 6th; Banded 40:
14 Golden-crowned Kinglets
8 American Goldfinches
1 Field Sparrow
10 American Tree Sparrows
6 Song Sparrows
1 Red-winged Blackbird
ET’s: 33 spp.

April 7th: Banded 23:
1 Downy Woodpecker
7 American Goldfinches
5 American Tree Sparrows
4 Song Sparrows
1 Red-winged Blackbird
5 Common Grackles
ET’s: 39 spp.

April 4th – Banding In Unsettled Times

April showers bring May flowers….ya, ya…..but I’m not sure what frigid rain and cold winds bring. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting old but….I seem to have a growing hankering for heat. These raw days don’t do much for me. They don’t seem to bother the birds too much though. Mother goose is still riveted to her nest and I’m looking forward to seeing her ushering her goslings around the pond in the near future. Song Sparrows are numerous and busy setting out and defending territories. [Interestingly, we banded a large number of Song Sparrows in the Fall and we currently have a large number of them around. We also banded a large number of Swamp Sparrows but so far we’ve banded only 2 this Spring. They’re still not back in any numbers, not even singing as they define their territories. I wonder where the two species spend the Winter….]. Today we had a small “hit” of Golden-crowned Kinglets move through, non-plussed by the conditions and there were at least 3 Eastern Phoebes about – one we banded, one was a retrap from last year, and one was simply singing its way around the pond. And to top it all off there was a plethora of Chorus Frogs singing like crazy, also nonplussed.

Flooding around Net #6. DOL

The rain we got yesterday and last night has raised the level of the pond by a few centimeters and flooded the wetland downstream of it to the point that I couldn’t open two of the nets. Even without them we had a good banding mmorning.
Banded 30:
1 Eastern Phoebe
8 Golden-crowned Kinglets (7 males)
1 American Robin
9 American Goldfinches
1 Field Sparrow
1 American Tree Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird

ET’s: 36 spp.

April 1st – A Slow Day…?

A Big Surprise: Somehow a Florida Scrub Jay – probably a young bird in a bout of adolescent disorientation – found its way to our scrub. A new bird for us….obviously -DOL

This is a funny time of year: you just never know what bird(s) might show up. Young birds, just making their way in the world, sometimes find themselves considerable distances from their typical home range. And so it was this morning. It was ironic, in a way, as a north wind seemed to have curtailed movement by the birds you’d usually expect to see at this date. But then I caught a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye and you can imagine my surprise when I saw this bird from the deep south. It made the rest of the very slow morning worth it.
Banded 8:
5 American Goldfinches
3 Song Sparrows
ET’s: 43 spp.