April 10th – One Sixth Done

This Osprey returned on April 4th and perched in a treetop above the pond (where this photo was taken). Shortly after this shot it flew straight to the bulky nest to the NE across the river. -KMP

And there it is on the nest minutes later. -KMP

Diane Green witnessed this interesting behaviour: one of the Osprey (likely the male) is dropping a fish to its mate – sort of wining and dining her. -DG

That’s right: one sixth of migration watching for small birds is done (April 1-10; 11-20; 21-30; May 1-10; 11-20; 21-31). We’ve been banding out of three sites: Ben Oldfield’s site in Lowville, the Farm site east of Cayuga, and Fern Hill School in Oakville. At none of the sites are we going hard core (nets up before sunrise and run for 6 hours, daily coverage). There’s only so much trained personpower to go around and we want to see what these sites can offer. So far the results have been what you might expect for April….except for the Fern Hill School site. I had an unbelievable 3 days there this week (and my fingers will attest to it)….see below.

The outside of the Farm banding hut. -JDF

…and the inside. -JDF

The Hurkmans Farm site outside of Cayuga is brand new to me/us. It’s situated next to a large pond and extensive wetland next to the Grand River. I don’t know really what we will get here or what the numbers will be like but already there’s some interesting developments. Of the 3 sites it produced the fewest number of birds banded – 67. But the greatest species diversity – 17. Some of the nice surprises are: a bevy of Tree Swallows checking out the nest boxes we just put up; an active Osprey nest across the river; a local pair of Sandhill Cranes (that likely is nesting now); a palette of Painted Turtles in the pond. It will be interesting to see how the Spring migration unfolds at this site.
Banded 67 (April 1-10):
2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers
6 Downy Woodpeckers
2 Eastern Phoebes

Eastern Phoebes were early arrivals. With these temperatures there are lots of insects to maintain them. -KMP

1 Blue Jay
8 Black-capped Chickadees
3 White-breasted Nuthatches
3 Brown Creepers
3 Golden-crowned Kinglets
4 American Robins
1 European Starling
15 American Tree Sparrows
10 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco
4 Red-winged Blackbirds

It’s difficult to get an accurate count of Red-winged Blackbirds as there are both resident and migrant birds around. -KMP

2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 American Goldfinch

A colourful nestbox (with a chickadee-sized hole) that was donated. We’ll see what we get. -JDF

Painted Turtle in the Farm pond. -KMP

A palette of Painted Turtles at the pond. (Today I counted 24.) -KMP

Eastern Bluebirds (at least 2 pairs) have been checking out the nest boxes at the Farm. We’ve yet to catch one though. -KMP

A pair of Blue-winged Teal have been frequenting the pond at the Farm for the past week. -DG

On Wednesday the census crew spotted this Pied-billed Grebe on the river (and later spotted a second). -MES

This pair of Sandhill Cranes has been around (probably) through the Winter. I’ve seen and heard them regularly – except for the past couple of days; they seen to have become very quiet – possibly nesting. -KMP

Skunk Cabbage. -KMP

Tree Swallows have started to seriously check out the nest boxes we put up on the flats. -KMP

Ben’s Lowville site has shown itself to be an excellent place to band birds. He gets good numbers and interesting diversity. This past Fall season was exceptional and he’s hoping for the same this Spring. Lowville 2nd in both number banded (82) and species (15).
Banded 82:
1 Downy Woodpecker
14 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Red-breasted Nuthatches

These birds are very cute: Red-breasted Nuthatch. -MMG

3 White-breasted Nuthatches

White-breasted Nuthatch. -MMG

3 Golden-crowned Kinglets
4 American Robins
9 Pine Siskins
7 American Goldfinches
1 Field Sparrow
7 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrows
21 Dark-eyed Juncos

Juncos were the most banded bird so far in Lowville. -NC

4 Northern Cardinals

Fern Hill School Oakville has been a complete surprise. It produced the least diversity (13) but by far the largest number of birds banded – 171 (over just 3 days)! This total was driven by Black-capped Chickadees – we banded 110 (33, 43, 34)! These birds were obviously migrants – they all were carrying good fat loads. Local chickadees that are residents and that we were recapturing at the same time were showing NO fat deposition. Interestingly the birds were quiet. If you went by ear alone you would have concluded that there were just a few around (and these were probably local birds letting everybody know they had territories) but they were streaming through the canopy, moving along the hedge-tree line that separates the campus from the cemetery next door until they could jump across a gap of 50 meters to a forest where they enjoyed feeding in the poplar catkins.
Banded 171:
2 Mourning Doves
110 Black-capped Chickadees
3 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Brown Creeper
3 American Robins
1 House Finch
4 American Tree Sparrows
1 Chipping Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
32 Red-winged Blackbirds

For comparison: older (ASY) male Red-winged Blackbird on the left; younger (HY) male on the right. -CL

3 Common Grackles
5 Brown-headed Cowbirds


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