April Commentary

April 2010 banding numbers at Ruthven Banding Station were the worst since we started 15 years ago. The rate of bird capture – just over 12 per 100 net hours – is the lowest. But we’re not alone. Walter Peace, Ruthven Board member and avid birder sent me the following:
‘I looked for the comparison numers of warblers (last year vs this year) at Pelee. The report from Thursday April 29, 2010 begins with this statement:
“It’s amazing how every spring is so different at Point Pelee. On this day last year (2009), 34 of the 37 regularly occurring warbler species at Point Pelee had already been sighted. This year (2010), we’ve only had nine!” ‘

This would seem to fly in the face of the following from 680 News:
April the warmest in 150 years in Toronto: Environment Canada
by Kevin Misener Apr 30, 2010 13:08:09 PM

TORONTO, Ont. – The month of April has been one for the record books.
Environment Canada said April in Toronto was the warmest in 150 years of record keeping, with an average temperature of 11.3C. The normal temperature for the month is 7.6C.
The agency’s senior climatologist Dave Phillips said the city also had the second driest April on record.
“It’s almost like the atmospheric faucet was turned off,” Phillips said. “Nature has forgotten how to precipitate over Toronto.”
There was only 29 millimetres of rain in Toronto in April — 69.6 millimetres is normal.
Phillips said it was a great April for golfers, but not the best for gardeners.
“So the atmosphere is just sucking up any ground water that we have, and of course people, you don’t need to have a weather person telling you that. You look around […] and the ground is like concrete,” he said.

One would think that early warm weather would bring early migrant birds but this doesn’t seem to be the case – and certainly hasn’t been at Ruthven. How come?
Although I haven’t paid it the attention that perhaps I should have, it seems to me that the weather between southern Ontario and the Gulf of Mexico has been very unsettled through April. [If anyone out there has the time and inclination, it would be interesting to get a synopsis of the weather for the eastern U.S. for April.] Birds having to traverse areas of bad weather would be much better off staying put and waiting it out. So maybe the ‘Big Push’ is yet to come…..


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