April 9th – More People Than Birds

No room at the picnic table.

Minus 2 temperatures during the night froze the nets and coated the net poles with ice, making putting the nets up exasperatingly slow. In fact, some nets weren’t opened until the sun was well up. It was an unusual day in that we had more visitors and helpers than birds (44 vs 33). Everyone was taking advantage of the day which became increasingly beautiful as it warmed up, reaching 14 degrees by noon. There was a group of Caledonia ‘Sparks’ who had stayed over in the Coach House last night. They were joined by Peter Scholtens kids, Elaine Serena’s grandchildren, and then another group of children I didn’t know. Out for the first time this season to help with the birding/banding was Maggie Ker and Eric Bauer (Eric taking a little time off from his birding forays in Florida and Arizona to “slum” it at Ruthven – good thing too as he turned up the first Myrtle Warblers (Yellow-rumped Warblers) of the year). And if that weren’t enough, we were joined by McMaster Master’s student Amanda Fracz who is interested in learning how to band. So, socially, it was a pretty hectic morning.

The first Tree Swallow capture of the year.

Birding-wise it wasn’t all that hectic. In fact, it was kind of slow. We handled just enough birds to keep the Sparks entertained, the other kids involved, and provide Amanda with a learning opportunity. The only ‘new’ species on the day was the Myrtle Warblers – a couple of brightly coloured males. We caught and banded our first Tree Swallow of the year – a beautiful ASY male.

Honeybees looking for sugars in the cut corn used as bait for the traps.

We were witness to an interesting phenomenon: the ground traps, which are baited with a mixture of ‘bird seed’ and cut corn, attracted large numbers of honeybees. The only reason I can think of for this is that they are attracted by the sugars in the corn(?).

Banded 16:
1 Tree Swallow
4 Black-capped Chickadees
1 American Tree Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 17:
1 Downy Woodpecker
8 American Tree Sparrows
5 Song Sparrows
3 Dark-eyed Juncos

ET’s: 43 spp.


2 thoughts on “April 9th – More People Than Birds

  1. Pingback: Spring Sights and Sounds at Ruthven | Dipet Update

  2. Hi Rick,
    After a long winter of dormancy, the honey bees are looking for pollen to feed their hungry new brood. In the process of grinding/cracking the corn, some tiny granules of powdered starches will also result, and this will substitute for pollen untill pollen becomes available from flowers. Bees will forage for food when temperatures reach 50 F.

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