Migration Monitoring – October 11th-14th, with pictures


It was cold (3 degrees) under starry skies when I was opening but it soon warmed up with the rising of the sun. There were no call notes overhead and very little early activity along the edges when I was opening. But there were birds moving all day long – steady but not overwhelming. And this was a good thing as it gave me time to attend to the 25 or so visitors that dropped in from their Grand Valley Trails Association meeting. And one of these, Audrey, picked up scribing quickly and helped out for most of the rest of the day – and is likely to return.

For the most part it was the “usual”: Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-throated Sparrows and, you guessed it, American Goldfinches. But Juncos are starting to make their presence felt and there were a couple of “good ones – another Orange-crowned Warbler and a Fox Sparrow.

The Eastern White-crowned Sparrows have got the ground traps figured out: for the expense of a little handling, there`s good food and lots of it to be had in those traps. We`ve set out 3 and a Potter trap by a big brush pile which is attracting them in good numbers and we retrapped 7 of them.

Peter Thoem came out to do the census – this is always a relief as it takes care of the anxiety: can I do a census or not….?

Banded 123:
2 Blue Jays
4 Black-capped Chickadees
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Brown Creeper
5 Golden-crowned Kinglets
10 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
5 Hermit Thrushes
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
17 Yellow-rumped Warblers
2 Northern Cardinals
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow
3 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
7 White-throated Sparrows
5 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
19 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Purple finches
1 House Finch
32 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 27:
1 Downy woodpecker
5 Black-capped Chickadees
3 White-breasted Nuthatches
3 Hermit Thrushes
1 Song Sparrow
7 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
7 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 49 spp.


A few pictures from the day, contributed by Ruth Oswald:

Audrey Oswald, scribing.

Birds waiting in bags to be banded.

A Dark-eyed Junco being processed.

A Blue-headed Vireo.

Head bander Rick Ludkin processing a bird.

Here’s a great Eastern Bluebird picture that was contributed by Bev Graham.

October 13th – OPEN HOUSE

We had 22 keen vistors here this morning ranging in age from ~3 (the least keen) to 88 (the keenest). It was cool and a little blustery with enough birds to keep people’s interest up and let them see what banding is all about but not enough to overwhelm the banders. [All Mitch’s training is paying off as he was able to be a BIG HELP scribing and extracting.] There weren’t any spectacular birds around but a few neat ones – our first Fox Sparrow, another Orange-crowned Warbler and, perhaps the best, our first Merlin for the season (which I was the only one to see). Packing many interested onlookers into the current banding lab makes you look forward to the upcoming expansion when people can spread out and see what’s going on without climbing on top of others.

Banded 55:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Winter Wren
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
6 Hermit Thrushes
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
8 Yellow-rumped Warblers
1 Fox Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
4 White-throated Sparrows
3 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
5 Dark-eyed Junco
2 Purple Finches
16 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 12:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
2 American Goldfinch


Some pictures from the day, contributed by Gerry Fuchs:

Mitch scribing while Rick bands.

Some interested visitors:





October 12th

I arrived at Ruthven under a clear starry sky just in time to hear the calls of both Eastern Screech Owl and Great Horned Owl. The temperature was much cooler than yesterday and as a consequence many of the migrants that swarmed the station yesterday have moved on. This does not mean that things were quiet however, as new flocks of Eastern White-Crowned Sparrows, Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Slate-Coloured Juncos and Rusty Blackbirds have moved in.

A banding milestone was reached in that the 700th American Goldfinch of the fall was banded today. There was a raucous celebration. Okay, I’m exaggerating. I let out a somewhat subdued “Woo Hoo” and got back to finishing up the paperwork. Still, this milestone ~was~ acknowledged. The previous record for fall banded American Goldfinches was 686….and we still have several weeks to go.

Banded: 104
American Goldfinch 46
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 4
Golden-Crowned Kinglet 5
Slate-Coloured Junco 7
Black-Capped Chickadee 11
Yellow-Rumped Warbler 7
Black-Throated Blue Warbler 1
Swamp Sparrow 1
Purple Finch 3
House Finch 1
White-Throated Sparrow 4
White-Breasted Nuthatch 1
Song Sparrow 4
Hermit Thrush 2
Eastern White-Crowned Sparrow 4
Downy Woodpecker 2
Grey Catbird 1

Retrapped: 13
American Goldfinch 4
Black-Capped Chickadee 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Song Sparrow 2
Eastern White-Crowned Sparrow 2
Hermit Thrush 1
White-Throated Sparrow 1
Mourning Dove 1


October 11th

There was a lot of activity around the banding station this morning with the largest daily total of birds banded yet this year. The first net round yielded 56 birds. Then it got busy…

Rick earned the coveted sobriquet “Turd Bander” today, an honour given out to anyone who bands 20 or more American Robins in a single net round. Apparently some folks have been calling Rick a turd for years, perhaps not even in error, but now it is official. You can identify his new elevated status by his purple staining….

The first Pine Warbler of the year was banded. It showed up in the feeder net just outside the station.

Banded: 192
American Goldfinch 61 (we now do them by the bucketful)
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 8
Nashville Warbler 2
Magnolia Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Slate-Coloured Junco 3
Yellow-Rumped Warbler 34
Field Sparrow 1
Black-Capped Chickadee 7
Eastern Phoebe 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Pine Warbler 1
Swamp Sparrow 1
Blue-Headed Vireo 1
Purple Finch 4
House Finch 1
Eastern White-Crowned Sparrow 6
Cedar Waxwing 3
Song Sparrow 7
Swainson’s Thrush 2
White-Throated Sparrow 8
Hermit Thrush 10
Grey Catbird 1
Northern Cardinal 2
American Robin 21
European Starling 3
Northern Flicker 1

Retrapped: 5
White-Breasted Nuthatch 1
Eastern Bluebird 1
Eastern White-Crowned Sparrow 1
Hermit Thrush 2 (one has put on 5g in 10 days)


Irene Schmidt, a regular visitor at Ruthven, was quite happy to get the chance to hold a Bluebird , her favorite. DSCN5599.JPG

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