April 15th – Stopped Cold

The reward for getting up real early: a secretive American Woodcock

Come the middle of April you should be able to expect some WARM sunny days….shouldn’t you? Well, so far they’ve eluded us. Although it was sunny, there was a cold wind blowing out of the NE which made it uncomfortable even in the sunshine unless you were behind a windblock. I don’t think it got above 5 degrees all morning. A combination of cold and headwind also put a major slowdown on the migration. There weren’t many ‘new’ birds and a lot of birds chose to stay around rather than take on the wind, as indicated by our captures: we had almost twice as many retraps as banded birds (31 vs 17).

A big surprise was the capture and subsequent banding of an American Woodcock. In all the years we we’ve been banding at Ruthven we’ve only caught a few. It was dark and as I was opening the nets I could hear a couple peenting in the field next to net 5 and I mused about the possibility of catching one. Having finished opening the nets I was going around to bait the ground traps when I saw a big brown thing in net 2; and there it was…..

Katherine getting a handle on formulating the day's data.

We had a nice lot of visitors (of all ages) today which always makes it fun. Peter Scholtens brought his birdsong recording equipment to show me how it works. This is something I could get into, although Donald Kroodsma, the guru on this stuff (and author of The Singing Life of Birds) warns that it has the potential to become addictive. And Elaine Serena brought some goodies…which also are addictive.

Caleb Scholtens holding a stunning male Redwing Blackbird.

A Killdeer egg that I stumbled on by the edge of the parking lot.

A rare (in Canada) European Goldfinch photographed by Eric Bauer in his backyard in Woodbridge.

Despite the weather we still had a pretty good species count (46) including 2 new ones for the year: Bald Eagle and Caspian Terns.

Banded 17:
1 American Woodcock
1 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
2 Northern Cardinals
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 House Finch
2 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 31:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
1 Northern Cardinal
11 American Tree Sparrows (1 banded as AHY in December ’07 – 3+ yrs. old)
1 Chipping Sparrow (banded as AHY in May ’07 – 5+ yrs. old)
1 Field Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows (1 banded as HY in July ’07 – 4 yrs. old)
1 Swamp Sparrow
5 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Red-winged Blackbird
2 American Goldfinch (1 banded as AHY in May ’08 – 4+ yrs. old)

ET’s: 46 spp.


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