July 19th – the Shattering of an Illusion

After being rained out the previous Friday it was with some trepidation that I approached Ruthven under threatening skies for the fifth MAPS session. As it turned out there was nothing to worry about as the threatening clouds were impotent and the day rather eventful.

While the nets were being opened the calls of two Eastern Screech Owls (one in the valley and the other in the family cemetery) competed with the howling and yipping of a family of coyotes for aural supremacy over Ruthven. Given the remarkable amount (and occasional unusual placement) of coyote scat around the grounds I suspect a rather large and loose-bowelled family has taken residence at the park.

Birds, somewhat absent the past few banding sessions, seem to have made a resurgence in the past week, mainly through the emergence of a variety of fledglings. Young Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, Yellow Warblers, Black-Capped-Chickadees, Song Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Grey Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles, White-Breasted Nuthatches, and Eastern Tufted Titmice were all present. An unusual grouping of three Orchard Orioles trapped together included two females with brood patches and one rather feckless juvenile. I suspect the latter blundered into another pair’s territory and was in the process of becoming fecked when they all flew into the net. An ASY male Orchard Oriole looked on impassively while the trio was extracted.

Purple Martins are still around but the Cerulean Warbler observed on several occasions last week was not in evidence. Sadly, the Eastern Phoebe nest at the front of the mansion seems to have been depredated.

Late in the banding session, or, as non-banders would term it, mid-morning, a group of people in period costume descended upon the grounds. It was enjoyable, in a somewhat surreal way, to watch them poke around the grounds and it was easy to imagine what Ruthven would have looked like in its heyday. Unfortunately the illusion was shattered when they all hopped into a minivan and sped away.

Banded: 37
American Goldfinch 5
Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher 1
Blue-Winged Warbler 1
Eastern Wood Pewee 1
House Wren 1
Yellow Warbler 4
Black-Capped Chickadee 5
Red-Eyed Vireo 1
Song Sparrow 3
Downy Woodpecker 2
Orchard Oriole 3
Eastern Tufted Titmouse 1
White-Breasted Nuthatch 1
Grey Catbird 6
Baltimore Oriole 1
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak 1

Retrapped 6
American Goldfinch 2
Song Sparrow 2
Eastern Bluebird 2


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