The April sun is hot. The wind blowing over the ice in the Strait of Belle Isle is chilling but get out of the wind and it’s very pleasant – not T-shirt weather perhaps but you certainly don’t need a jacket. The sun also is eating up the recent snow and there’s bare patches all over. But first thing this morning the buntings were hungry and they know where there’s a lot of good food and they piled into the traps to get at it. Consequently we had a pretty good day banding 73 and retrapping 39 from previous days – and one was a recapture “from away”. We’re waiting to hear who banded it and where. That’s the third one here. As things warmed up the attendance of the birds at the bait areas dropped. Even more so when a Northern Shrike showed up and tried to figure out how to get into the traps! The shrike really slowed thing down.
There’s no doubt that males migrate through here before females. With today’s catch we’ve banded 263 birds; of these 259 have been males. What’s also interesting is that older males, ASY or After Second-Year birds, seem to go through before younger or SY – Second Year males. But the gap between them is narrowing. On the 30th the ratio of ASY to SY males was 7:1; on the 2nd it was 4.2:1, and today it was 2.3:1. The younger or SY males can’t let the older birds beat them to the nesting grounds if they want to be able to compete for territories that would be attractive to females. There’s a lot of searching and defending that has to go on before the females arrive and it’s easier to defend a territory than to claim a new one or try to oust a bird in possession of one.