Migration Monitoring – A busy September weekend

September 16th – Mac’s Biodiversity Program Visits Ruthven

Dr. Pat Chow-Fraser’s biodiversity class visited Ruthven this morning. It’s always good to see these keen young people trying to figure out what bird it is they are holding in their hand. This class also draws Burlington counsellor Peter Thoem – who comes out to help them learn how to identify birds in the field. It’s always good to see Peter again.

Today they were able to see a lot of birds up close – we banded 98 and retrapped another 25. It was another one of those days when we would have kept catchin birds if we’d left the nets open – especially the nets associated with the feeders as the American Goldfinches are taking full advantage of the bonanza. There wasn’t as much diversity today as yesterday – only 52 species seen on the day vs 62 yesterday.

A couple of intersting birds though were: a beautiful adulite-throat male Northern Parula (let’s hope the biodiversity folks send me their pictures to post); a Yellow Warbler (we rarely see these after the first week of August – it must be a bird from farther north); the season’s first Ruby-crowned Kinglet (an early female); and the second White-throated Sparrow (the harbinger of the hordes to come).

Banded 98:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 Swainson’s thrushes
3 Gray Catbirds
4 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Tennessee Warbler
2 Nashville Warblers
1 Northern Parula
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
3 Magnolia Warblers
9 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Black & White Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
1 Purple Finch
58 American Goldfinches (!)

Retrapped 25:
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
2 Black-capped Chickadees
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Gray Catbird
1 Red-eyed Vireo
2 Magnolia Warblers
4 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Black & White Warbler
2 Purple Finches
8 American Goldfinches

Estimated Total: 52 species

September 15th – pictures from the 15th should be added soon

Ragged cloud shrouded some of the stars at opening time – the remnants of last night’s rain. High overhead faint “call notes” gave away the presence of migrants. At first light these migrants headed for shelter and food – the tops of the trees at Ruthven came alive as they descended.

It was a busy day at Ruthven – from a number of perspectives. There were lots of birds – we had our biggest banding day so far this year (122 banded). Just under half of this total was made up of American Goldfinches. However we also had 10 species of warbler (including the year’s first Northern Parula) and 5 Scarlet Tanagers. (If we had kept the nets open we would have been catching good numbers until late into the afternoon.)
There were a lot of people at Ruthven today as well. It was the county’s Doors Open event and the grounds/Mansion must have had well over 300 visitors – many of whom made their way to the banding lab to see what was going on. In the early afternoon there was a wedding in the Gazebo – so even more people. This human traffic did not seem to deter the birds one iota.
We also had our fair share of banders as the MacLeod clan (from Cape Breton) descended on the nets and banding lab to learn what it’s all about. (I think it was quite fitting that there was a piper for the wedding – to sort of welcome them to Ontario….)

A quick look at the past week’s results shows that we have already set a couple of Fall records:
– 103 Blackpoll Warblers banded (vs 76 in 2005)
– 14 Scarlet Tanagers (vs 10 in 2002)

Banded 122:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Northern Flicker
4 Eastern Wood Pewees
7 Black-capped Chickadees
3 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Swainson’s Thrush
3 Gray Catbirds
1 Philadelphia Vireo
10 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Tennessee Warbler
2 Nashville Warbler
1 Northern Parula
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Black-throated Green Warbler
1 Blackburnian Warbler
14 Blackpoll Warbler
1 Black & White Warbler
1 Ovenbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
5 Scarlet Tanagers
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
4 Purple Finches
56 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 18:
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Gray Catbird
7 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Song Sparrow
5 American Goldfinches

September 14th

Under the stars, interrupted only by the distant hoots of a Great Horned Owl, the contact calls of hundreds of migrants could be heard from the parking lot of Ruthven Park this morning. As dawn approached small forms could be seen zipping into the surrounding forest from the sky above.

Calls abounded and the trees surrounding the mansion contained many flitting shapes of warblers and vireos….

All in all a very promising start to the morning, and the first net round yielded both decent numbers and a good variety, including the year’s second Connecticut Warbler. Unfortunately the wind picked up and the capture rate of anything non-goldfinch (or leaf) faltered. Luckily this did not seem to deter the large and exuberant group of visitors present at the station today who were happy to release many of Ruthven’s patron bird once they had been banded.

Banded: 58
American Goldfinch 25
Tennessee Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 2
Black-Throated Green Warbler 3
Nashville Warbler 2
Chestnut-Sided Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 7 (why wait ’til the weekend to smash Ruthven’s Blackpoll record?)
Eastern Wood Pewee 2
Philadelphia Vireo 1
Bay-Breasted Warbler 1
Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher 1
Black-Capped Chickadee 1
Connecticut Warbler 1
Ovenbird 1
Purple Finch 2
Indigo Bunting 1
Swainson’s Thrush 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Grey Catbird 1
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak 1
Blue Jay 1

Retrapped: 5
Black-Capped Chickadee 1
Purple Finch 1
White-Breasted Nuthatch 1
Grey Catbird 1
Northern Flicker 1

Eastern Tufted Titmouse and Wood Thrush (haven’t seen the latter for awhile) were heard in the valley, and a Red-Shouldered Hawk flew over the station shortly after close.

If you are ever stuck for entertainment ideas for a group of eager students, I recommend….Red Fox skeletons. Particularly if the connective tissue is still “connective”. A definite crowd pleaser.


One thought on “Migration Monitoring – A busy September weekend

  1. Is that what the carcass right in the middle of the Riverside trail was? It was really hard to tell…after the spring rash of carcasses I thought it was another ex-coon. I had some pics taken of it if you want to include it in the blog? e me and let me know.

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