March 24th – Soaking Up Some Rays

Male Common Redpoll - a rare visitor to Ruthven

Soaking up some rays

A BEAUTIFUL Spring day! Cold early on and it ‘warmed up’ to only 4 degrees or so but, once you got out of the NW breeze, you could really feel the sun and over the course of the day you could see where it had eaten away large patches of snow.

We opened 2 nets and set out 3 ground traps to sample what was around. Over a span of 4 hours we caught 41 birds. Twenty-seven of these were retraps, many of them American Tree Sparrows. But one was a very interesting male Red-winged Blackbird. We had banded this bird as an ASY (After Second Year) in 2005, meaning that it had to have been hatched no earlier than 2003. This would make it at least 8 years old. However, it had sustained an injury to its bill. The upper mandible had a big notch in it (see picture above). This was an old injury and not a result of being in a ground trap. Despite it, the bird seems to have been able to forage successfully as its fat and muscle scores were good and it appeared to be in good condition otherwise.

The banding highlight of the day was a male Common Redpoll. Just last week, when I was north of Cobalt at Hilliarton Marsh Banding Station, I had seen a group of over 250 going to the feeders there. But down here at Ruthven they’re a rare occurrence. It’s been some time since we’ve had one here so it was a treat. It was the only one around too, mixed in with a small flock of American Goldfinches.

Banded 14:
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
7 American Tree Sparrows
3 Song Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Common Redpoll


2 thoughts on “March 24th – Soaking Up Some Rays

  1. Red polls may be unusual at Ruthven but here in Fonthill we’ve had a flock of about 50 feeding on niger seed for at least 3 weeks. At first it was a mixed flock of males and females but about a week ago most of the males left. There appeared to be some hoary red poles mixed into the flock.
    We have had red poles in the past, mixed with gold finches, but never like this year. Our goldfinches have been pushed out of our feeders and garden by them.
    A few days ago we had 6 crossbills stop in to a sunflower feeder. They are attracted by a larch tree in our yard.
    Thanks for all the hard work you do on the Ruthven blog I always enjoy it.

  2. That’s really interesting considering that, latitude-wise, we’re not very different. I was wondering if you have any stands of conifers in the area that might attract redpolls and crossbills. Also, do you get these every year or was this year an exception?

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