May 10th – 700!

Jeremy holds # 700, a male Yellow Warbler that he has just banded. -DOL

Numbers aren’t the name of the game and a total this year might not come close to comparing to a total next year. For example, in the past 3 Springs we’ve banded a total of 27 Myrtle Warblers; so far this year we’ve banded 129! A fluke. But a nice fluke to experience. Next year it could go down to 9, the previous 3-year average. So, I don’t put a lot of stock in numbers per se but….they’re a good motivator when the alarm goes off at 4:30 and you have to roll out of bed for another Spring banding day with the thought that today just might be the day when we hit 700….and we did! Jeremy Petrusma did the honours and although I know it’s just a number, damn it felt good.

Banded 36:
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Northern Flicker
2 Warbling Vireos
2 Tree Swallows
2 Gray Catbirds
1 American Robin
2 Savannah Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Baltimore Oriole
1 Common Grackle
2 Common Yellowthroats
3 Yellow Warblers
2 Western Palm Warblers
14 Myrtle Warblers

ET’s: 38 spp.

May 9th – Still Waiting

Priestley with a lovely male Baltimore Oriole she’ just banded. -DOL

Another beautiful, cool morning. I’ve been finding that the warblers don’t begin to get going until the temperature goes up. And when it did today, there was a fair amount of flitting through the trees but…all the warblers I was seeing were of the “early” variety: Yellow, Myrtle and Palm Warblers. I’m waiting for the bonanza of the long-distance variety, Magnolias, Blackburnians, Blackpolls, Bay-breasted, etc. I have found that their presence tends to coincide with the presence of mosquitoes – those little winged meatballs that fuel their travels. It’s sort of a tradeoff; the wonder of these little migrants vs the aggravation of bothersome insects. Small price to pay I think.

A real highlight of the morning was seeing a furtive Virginia Rail just 3 meters away as it picked its way through the reeds at the edge of the pond. I’m wondering if this bird will nest here – it’s been present for a week now.

Banded 31:
1 Red-bellied woodpecker
3 Blue Jays
2 Tree Swallows
1 Gray Catbird
1 Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow. This bird was carrying a lot of fat – it wasn’t a local breeder, it still had a long way to go.

1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrows
2 Baltimore Orioles
2 Red-winged Blackbirds
2 Brown-headed Cowbirds
2 Common Yellowthroats
2 Yellow Warblers
6 Western Palm Warblers
4 Myrtle Warblers

ET’s: 41 spp.

May 7th – Gorgeous Day!

Magical early morning: clear blue skies, bracing temperature but no wind to speak of, mist rising off the pond, and a clear, loud “dawn chorus”. I think these ideal migration conditions caused many migrants to pass over, making the most of them to get as far as possible. There weren’t many new migrants around – most of the ones I was seeing were going to be breeding residents, like Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, etc. But there were a few warblers and a small wave of flickers. The pace was such that I could do a round, band a few, put more wood chips down on the trails, and then do another round in marvellous conditions. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Banded 18:
1 Tree swallow
1 Gray Catbird
2 Swamp Sparrows
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Common Grackle
1 Western Palm Warbler
9 Myrtle Warblers

ET’s: 41 spp.

May 6th – A Nice Variety

The first Blue-winged Warbler we’ve encountered at the Farm since we started. A second year female. -DOL

There wasn’t much happening in the cool early morning (I hope you all caught the gorgeous sunrise!). But as it warmed up, birds began to move and we lucked into some really nice ones. The female Blue-winged Warbler we caught was the first one for this site. [Interestingly, Sam was talking about them on Saturday, how nice it would be to see one, and… it was! I’ve asked him to keep thinking/talking about unusual species to see if he can conjure them up in real life.]

Passing off a “biter” to Michelle Karam, head honcho and driving force with Land Care Niagara…and an old friend. –

We didn’t band a lot of birds – 26 = but we banded a nice variety: 15 species. We also handled another 14 retraps. We had a group of visitors from Land Care Niagara that were very interested in the ecology of the site and in banding itself – it was a “bird banding workshop” I found out later. We caught birds at a rate that allowed us to spend the time to teach/learn and the variety simply maintained excitement and interest.

Banded 26:
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 House Wren
2 Cedar Waxwings
1 American Goldfinch
1 White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow. -DOL

1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrows
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 Blue-winged Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Northern Parula

1 Yellow Warbler
1 Western Palm Warbler
7 Myrtle Warblers
ET’s: 40 spp.

Mike with a Western Palm Warbler.

Sarah with her first banded bird: Yellow Warbler.

Katja with one of two Cedar waxwings we banded today.