October 31st – November 3rd, with some pictures

November 3rd

Rain delayed the opening of the nets for a couple of hours this morning. Compared to the last few days there was relatively little bird activity so the number of banded birds was low.

A small shrew (very dead) was found along the trail between the net lanes. It was likely a Common Shrew. Widespread throughout our region this is actually the first one I have seen at Ruthven. More commonly observed, perhaps due to their tendency to expire along pathways – which is handy I suppose for shrew counters, is the Short-Tailed Shrew.

Banded: 16
American Goldfinch 2
American Tree Sparrow 5
Pine Siskin 3
Slate-Coloured Junco 6

Retrapped: 15
American Goldfinch 2
Brown Creeper 1
Slate-Coloured Junco 7
American Tree Sparrow 1
Black-Capped Chickadee 2
White-Breasted Nuthatch 1
Blue Jay 1


November 2nd – a Colder and Less Hectic Day

The cold was certainly making itself felt this morning. Minus 3 just before the sun came up and a heavy frost blanketed the fields and buildings. We were able to open nets 2 and 4 (the big producers) with some difficulty and then waited for it to heat up to open the others (or, at least, most of the others). There didn’t seem to be as many birds around this morning except for Goldfinches and Juncos, especially the former – in the past 4 days we’ve banded 146 of them! I did see 2 Eastern Tufted Titmice though.

Banded 59:
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
4 American Tree Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
39 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 30:
2 Downy Woodpeckers
4 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Song Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrows
9 Dark-eyed Juncos
9 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 32 species


November 1st – A Hectic Day!

This was one of those neat days that starts off slowly – opening the nets under the stars – and then just seems to explode…..First Christine Madliger (Ruthven species at risk co-ordinator) and her friend Alexis (ex Mac biodiversity student and current eel person) arrive to help out; then Faye Socholotiuk; then Peter Scholtens and the little Scholtens (the very energetic little Scholtens, I might add); then some other kids I’d never met before; and then some other “interested parties”. Despite the enlargement of the banding lab, at times I was feeling claustrophobic, pushed up against the banding table by people wanting to see all there was to see. And that’s great – it’s part of the reason we do what we do – but just a little hectic at times. It was good to have all the help though as there were good numbers of birds around (especially Goldfinches) including Pine Siskins, a northern irruptive species and the first Buffleheads of the season.

Banded 87:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Ruby-crowned Kiinglet
2 American Robins
12 Yellow-rumped Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
7 Fox Sparrows (6 caught in net 8 at the same time)
2 Song Sparrows
3 White-throated Sparrows
11 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 Pine Siskins
41 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 22:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 Yellow-rumped Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Song Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows
10 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 27 species


Some pictures from the day, sent by Pete Scholtens and Faye Socholotiuk.

Caleb Scholtens with a White-throated Sparrow


Faye Socholotiuk

Rick sporting some nice shades.

Alexis Richardson (former Mac biodiversity student and current eel person) and Christine Madliger.

Newcomer Gideon Vanderwoude.

His brother Ethan.


Caleb with a Pine Siskin.

Pine Siskin.

Hatch-year Myrtle Warbler.


Hannah and a Mourning Dove.


Alexis honing her ID skills.


Caleb with a Northern Cardinal.


This Fox Sparrow had a deformed bill–something we see occasionally in a variety of birds.

October 31st

There seems to be a disturbing trend developing at Ruthven Park. Loretta has a big day, then the following day anyone with a Y chromosome banding feebs out and catches nothing. Perhaps it is part of a wider trend. At the school where I wait for my daughter to be let out of JK for the day there is a prevailing train of thought amongst the other parents, almost all women, that males are OK, maybe even necessary, but on the whole not to be trusted with important tasks or sharp objects.

With this in mind I was lamenting my luck (or gender inadequacy) that there was a strong wind blowing and my likelihood of catching anything was severely diminished. Caught up in self pity it took me a little while to realize that the sound I was ignoring wasn’t a reverse beeper signaling a miniature truck moving backwards in the valley behind Net 6, but the call of a Northern Saw-Whet Owl.

Despite the wind the day only got better as visitors came and brought candy to share. Birds? Who needs birds? Well, as it turns out… I caught some anyway. Not enough to qualify as a big day, but enough to withhold the tarnished honor of my gender.

The warm weather encouraged a number of butterflies – mostly sulfurs, Cabbage Whites and a Mourning Cloak – to take late season flight in search of nectar sources. Even a late Northern Spring Peeper began to call around noon.

Banded: 58
American Goldfinch 31
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 2
Yellow-Rumped Warbler 4
Slate-Coloured Junco 7
American Tree Sparrow 2
House Finch 1
Hermit Thrush 1
White-Throated Sparrow 2
Cedar Waxwing 5
Song Sparrow 1
American Robin 1
Mourning Dove 1

Retrapped: 20
American Goldfinch 2
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 1
Slate-Coloured Junco 11
Black-Capped Chickadee 3
White-Throated Sparrow 2
White-Breasted Nuthatch 1

29 spp observed.


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