April 18th – the Return of the Loons!

The unmistakable signs of northward migration was present today at Ruthven Park as the annual spring flight of Common Loons over the property commenced. Keenly awaited by banders and visitors the flight of the loons (not to be confused with the similarly titled summer recess of parliament) to their watery northern breeding grounds is a majestic sight.

Also moving today were large numbers of female Slate-Coloured Juncos. Several dozen of them were observed foraging in the gravel at the front of the mansion. Likely these individuals overwintered along the shores of Lake Erie and are now heading northward. Many of the local juncos that spent the winter at Ruthven moved on during the night.

Caleb Scholtens (winner of HNC’s Ross Thompson Trophy for birding) celebrated his birthday at Ruthven in the morning. In a tribute to the trophy winner the local Eastern Tufted Titmice gathered together and sang a stirring (if rather high-pitched and blood-curdling) rendition of “Happy Birthday” before attacking the celebrants.

Besides Common Loon, the other new species for the season was Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.

Banded: 23
American Goldfinch 7
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 1
Slate-Coloured Junco 8
Field Sparrow 1
Brown-Headed Cowbird 1
Song Sparrow 2
Eastern Tufted Titmouse 1
Fox Sparrow 1
Red-Winged Blackbird 1

Retrapped: 18
American Goldfinch 2
Slate-Coloured Junco 2
Black-Capped Chickadee 3
Song Sparrow 6 (including one that was banded as an adult in 2005)
Eastern Tufted Titmouse 2
Brown-Headed Cowbird 1
American Robin 1
Blue Jay 1

38 species observed on the day.


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