April 12th – An Influx of ‘New’ Birds

An early female Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler - the second one banded today.

There was a NE wind blowing, making the 5 degree temperature feel a lot colder. And until the sun was well up several of us commented that it was quite raw. There seemed to be quite a lot of visible migration that made being out in the cold worthwhile. Take the first 3 minutes of the census for example. We had no sooner set out than we heard the call of a Common Loon. We never hear loons at Ruthven when they’re migrating but there it was. Christine found the source of the call – three of them heading….south. We no sooner got over our surprise when the first Sharp-shinned Hawk of the year flew by. Great! And immediately a larger hawk, that was perched in the top of one of the big spruces overlooking the river, flew up. Our first thought was Cooper’s but, no, it was a Peregrine Falcon!! And so it went – lots of surprises. The only downside was that the strong winds were billowing the nets so our ‘catch’ wasn’t overly spectacular.

A new bird for the season was a Swamp Sparrow. (I had found one in early January down on the river flats overwintering but hadn’t seen another until today.) We had 6 new birds for the year: the Sharp-shinned Hawk and Peregrine Falcon; a flock of ~50 Bonaparte’s Gulls (like the loons, heading south); a couple of Northern Rough-winged Swallows over the river; a Barn Swallow hanging out with the Tree Swallows around the parking lot; and Chipping Sparrows.

We had a pair (male and female) Purple Martins come to check out the nest apartments again today and in the early afternoon there were 3 males and a female together. Keep keeping those fingers crossed.

Including the 6 loons we saw today, we’ve seen 20 Common Loons fly over. All but two of them were headed S or SW. What’s going on? I think these early migrants fly north from the Atlantic and/or Chesapeake Bay until they reach the south side of Lake Ontario, possibly having used the north-south running Finger Lakes. Over time they’ve evolved to ‘know’ that there’s not much sense in continuing north as the lakes are still frozen and even the Georgian Bay Islands have ice around them. So they follow the south shore of Ontario heading west and when it begins to peter out they head S/SW to take advantage of the fishing in the Inner Bay of Long Point in Lake Erie. There they will fatten up prior to heading north OR they will continue their migration heading west through Lake Erie and then north up through Lakes Huron and Superior. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it….

Banded 18:
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Blue Jay
1 Black-capped Chickadee
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
2 Yellow-rumped Warblers (both females; interestingly, we saw 4 males on census)
2 American Tree Sparrows
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 House Finch

Retrapped 7:
1 Eastern Tufted Titmouse
2 American Tree Sparrows
2 Song Sparrows
1 House Finch
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 46 spp.


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