April 11th – Purple Martins!!

Katherine Moesker looking pretty happy about her first day on the job.

We worked long and hard and did an awful lot of wishful thinking over the past 6 years to finally get some Purple Martins to nest in our nest boxes. Last year we had four breeding pairs that fledged over 11 young. (We were so concerned about disturbing them that we didn’t intrude to find out just how successful they’d been.) With the sighting of the first Tree Swallows on March 29th, we figured that it wouldn’t be too much longer before we saw a martin. But this is earlier than we had hoped; in fact, we didn’t see the first one last year until April 18th – so today’s sighting was a full week earlier. The really exciting thing about today was that this wasn’t simply a chance sighting of a bird over the River; this adult male (possibly two) was seen checking out the nest boxes. Was this one of last year’s birds!? We didn’t waste any time after seeing it. I dug up 2 gourd nest houses and attahced them to the metal box apartments and then raised one of the two boxes. The bird (or another one) came back later and was VERY interested in the gourds. (Last year the gourd nest fledged young more than a week before the other nests that were in the apartments.) Keep your fingers crossed.

It was very windy all morning; in fact, it got worse later in the morning. And a few times some raindrops came down but it didn’t amount to anything – much to my surprise. The strong winds made netting difficult and we managed to catch only 30 birds. This was probably a good thing as it was Katherine Moesker’s first day. Katherine is a 2nd-year student from Sir Sanford Fleming in Peterborough. She started a 2-week field placement at Ruthven specifically to learn how to band. So a “relaxed pace”…from her perspective…was a good thing. And from mine too as I don’t like to see students overwhelmed…on their first day. Now on the second day I don’t mind at all……One of the good things though was the banding of the first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the year.

Banded 16:
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
1 American Tree Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 House Finch
3 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 14:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
1 Black-capped Chickadee
6 American Tree Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 43 spp.


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