April 16th – 19th: The Last Four Days

The 3rd Savannah Sparrow captured this season. It may be just co-incidence or it might be an indication of the effectiveness of growing prairie grass and having a refurbished edge habitat. -JDF

The above Savannah Sparrow was missing its lower leg/foot. Even so, it was in good physical condition. -JDF

The weather has been topsy-turvy over the last four days, going from Summer temps in the high 20’s to cold, raw conditions with wind, rain and the thermometer at just above freezing.

The 16th was hot and ushered out some migrants that had spent the Winter here – specifically American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. There were very few around on the 16th and there have been even fewer since then. We’ve retrapped a couple since and they’ve been putting on fat/weight so even they won’t be around much longer. Although they have gone, the sparrows that will take their place as they move through have not shown up yet. And no wonder. There were thunderstorms on the evening/night of the 16th as the temperature plummeted and we got heavy rains. [I was REALLY pleased to see the rain as the many dogwoods that we have replanted looked in need of watering after days of hot weather – they look much better now!] We banded only 8 birds on the 16th. I banded a House Wren, which was the first for the year, and Liam dug up a very early Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, also a first.
Banded 8:
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 House Wren
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
1 Northern Cardinal
Species Count: 45

There was no banding on the 17th due to cold, rain and high winds. I did a brief walk around to see what birds I could find. Despite the conditions, it was interesting to watch a loose flock of 66 Tree Swallows work their way up the River.
Species Count: 23

I opened on the 18th for a couple of hours even though the temperature hovered around 2 C. but, as the raw wind began to pick up and the nets began to billow, I closed early.
Banded 15:
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
6 American Goldfinches
1 Field Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Song Sparrow
3 Swamp Sparrows
Species Count: 36

It was cold first thing this morning (19th) with a threatening overcast and a bit of wind. But the sun, when it finally emerged, was a blessing and thoroughly enjoyed by all of us. New species for the year were: Red-breasted Merganser, Caspian Tern, Barn Swallow, Hermit Thrush, all found by promising new bander Mike MacLeod. An interesting sighting was a mink in the pond.

This photo may look fuzzy but Joanne was able to capture the funky aura surrounding Mike holding his first banded bird: American Goldfinch. -JDF

The bloom is off the rose in this picture of Mike with a Red-bellied Woodpecker. What happened to that aura!? -JDF

Banded 23:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
6 American Goldfinches
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Savannah Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Song Sparrows
3 Red-winged blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
2 Common Grackles
1 Northern Cardinal
Species Count: 45

Odds and Ends
Rick Walford, who works at Veolia Water Technologies and Solutions in Burlington, put up a number of bluebird/tree swallow boxes on the property a few years ago. He reports that he already has a nest with 3 eggs! And Wood Ducks have been checking out the pond.

An early nesting of Eastern Bluebirds. -R. Walford

The purple stains on the face of this male Snow Bunting tell you that it’s been feeding on partidgeberries – a good food source on its flight north. -E. Luther

Eva Luther lives in St. Lewis, Labrador. She monitors the flow of migrating Snow Buntings through the area in the Spring as they head back to the Arctic. Eva actually recovered a bird that I had banded here in southern Ontario many years ago. It was a pleasure to finally meet her (and see St. Lewis) this past March/early April. When I was there visiting she fed me on homemade bread and partridgeberry jam; it’s delicious! When the snow melts many of these tasty and nutritious berries are made available to birds, fueling their migration.

Note the band on the leg of this male Snow Bunting. V. Buckle

I banded with Vernon Buckle for about a week in Forteau along the south coast of Labrador. This forms part of the Snow Bunting “highway” as birds wing their way back to the Arctic. While I was there, we recapturd 3 birds that had been previously banded somewhere else. One was by David Lamble last year near Fergus Ontario. The data on the other two had not yet been entered but I suspect they were from banding operations in southern Quebec. And just yesterday he was able to photograph this bird with enough resolution to get a full band number (it took about a hundred shots!). It too was a David Lamble bird:

The certificate one receives when reporting a banded bird. -V. Buckle

And in Haines Junction in the Yukon, Julie Bauer had a banner year:
Hello all, well our last day of bunting banding was today. It has been an interesting season. Started March 19 for a period of 22 days. Start was slow and then we had busy time around April 1st. High banding count of 272 in our backyard April 3. Only 3 LALO this year handled. Total banding was 1818, our third highest number in 10 years of banding. Year to year recaps were 15 with 2 from 2018.We have just passed 10,000 birds banded. We caught lots of females throughout this season and I believe it will be our highest count of females ever. Will crunch some numbers later.
Cheers Julie and Terry

Terry at the trapping area. -J. Bauer

Snow Buntings in the back yard. Must be nice! -J. Bauer


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