Fall Migration at TTPBRS-October 21-27

Long-eared Owl (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

A blustery week of fieldwork at TTPBRS with relatively few migrants passing through. Just 232 birds were banded during the 7-day update period, although I would estimate that several thousand leaves were extracted from the mistnets! Numbers of waterfowl, winter finches and blackbirds increased during the week and numbers of Fox Sparrows and Golden-crowned Kinglets remain record low.

High winds curtailed the banding operation on October 21. During the calm first couple of hours after sunrise, a substantial movement of blackbirds, pipits and finches occurred. Of note during the flight were high flying flocks of House Finches and House Sparrows, which makes one wonder what House Sparrows are up to traveling at several hundred feet over the lakeshore. Light bird activity on the 22nd included a late Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a Brown Thrasher. Conditions were suitable for owls later that evening as 21 Northern Saw-whets and a Long-eared Owl were banded. A stiff north wind arrived on the 23rd along with lots of rain. This weather likely led to a busier morning on October 24 as 92 birds were banded of 18 species. Highlights of the morning include the first Bonaparte's Gulls of the fall, good numbers of Hermit Thrushes and singles of Orange-crowned Warbler and Field Sparrow. Sparrows were more numerous on the 25th when 62 birds were banded. Banding totals included 3 Fox Sparrow, 10 Slate-colored Junco, 3 White-throated Sparrow, and 7 American Tree Sparrow. Long-tailed Ducks and Bufflehead suddenly appeared in large numbers on the 26th, which is one of the first indicators that the migration is nearing an end. October 27 was another windy day, cutting short our mistnetting effort. Of note during the fieldwork was the count of 3700 Long-tailed Ducks in the outer harbour.

Youth in the Field
Another great season of the Winged Migration Program for students has now finished and we look forward to more students at the bird research station in 2008! Thanks to Raja Raudsepp for her excellence as the program educator during the past season.

TTPBRS Recoveries
A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak banded at TTPBRS on August 5, 2006, was recovered in Palmetto, Florida, on October 13, 2007!

A Northern Saw-whet Owl banded at TTPBRS on October 16, 2007, was found 7 days later on October 23, 2007, in a mistnet at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory.

Rare Migrant Moths at Tommy Thompson Park
An informal inventory of fall moths was completed in recent weeks. Highlights of the effort include Texas Mocis (one of 2 or 3 records for Ontario), Yellow Scallop Moth, Lost Sallow and Three-spotted Pinion. Thanks to David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie for heading up the project and we look forward to resuming the inventory next spring/summer!


Oct 21
1-Bald Eagle
10-American Coot
22-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
18-Golden-crowned Kinglet
28-American Pipit
1-Common Yellowthroat
750-Red-winged Blackbird
20-Rusty Blackbird
24-House Finch
22-House Sparrow

Oct 22
2-American Golden-Plover
1-Yellow-billed Cuckoo
6-Winter Wren
1-Brown Thrasher
7-Cedar Waxwing

Oct 23
1-Long-eared Owl
21-Northern Saw-whet Owl

Oct 24
2-Common Goldeneye
9-Sharp-shinned Hawk
4-Bonaparte's Gull
1-Eastern Phoebe
27-Black-capped Chickadee
1-Swainson's Thrush
19-Hermit Thrush
48-American Pipit
1-Orange-crowned Warbler
1-Field Sparrow
6-Fox Sparrow
1120-Red-winged Blackbird
35-Rusty Blackbird

Oct 25
1-Black-bellied Plover
3-American Woodcock
15-American Crow
75-Golden-crowned Kinglet
1-Orange-crowned Warbler
7-American Tree Sparrow
3-Fox Sparrow

Oct 26
1600-Long-tailed Duck
2-Greater Yellowlegs
1-Wood Thrush

Oct 27
3700-Long-tailed Duck

Birds Banded: Aug 5-Oct 27

Species Recorded: Aug 5-Oct 27


Fall Migration at TTPBRS-October 14-20

Net Check (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

It was a dynamic week at Tommy Thompson Park with some remarkably heavy bird migration and an inordinate amount of odd and sometimes eerie weather.

October 14 was the busiest day of the fall season so far as 247 birds were banded during the morning. The light north winds brought scores of kinglets, Myrtle Warblers and Hermit Thrushes. Also captured were 2 Orange-crowned Warblers and a late Tennessee Warbler. Season firsts of Surf Scoter and Ring-necked Duck were amongst 37 species recorded during the census. Conditions were suitable later that night for Northern Saw-whet Owls as 34 were captured, including 16 on one net check. The following morning was also busy, with 197 birds banded and 30 recaptured.The species composition was much the same as the previous day although more Brown Creepers were evident and singles of Blue-headed Vireo, Chipping Sparrow and Black-throated Green Warbler were banded. A vocal Hairy Woodpecker was present, the first recorded at TTPBRS in 2007. Very strong winds led to minimal coverage (census only) on October 16. Conditions stabilized on the 17th and the migration was still in full swing. A total of 136 birds were banded and 33 recaptured. A flock of 20 Brant briefly settled near the large sandbar that has formed off the beach. This was the first record of the species for TTPBRS. Five White-winged Scoter and singles of late Yellow-bellied and Least Flycatchers were also notable. A season high of 65 Black-capped Chickadees was reached on this day, which is the highest one-day total since the last southern irruption in fall 2005. Thereafter, coverage was reduced as the weather became problematic, with a dense fog shrouding TTPBRS on the 18th, and strong winds that kept our nets furled on the 19th and 20th.

The recent warm weather with strong south winds has likely kept many migrants to the north of us. This is supported by the noticeable lack of Fox Sparrows and other late fall species. Golden-crowned Kinglets have been far outnumbered by Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which is unusual as Goldens normally outnumber Rubys by a count of 2 to 1 by this point in the fall season.

HIGHLIGHTS (banding totals in bold)

Oct 14

1-Ring-necked Duck

8-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

12-Eastern Phoebe

37-Black-capped Chickadee

87-Ruby-crowned Kinglet

150-Golden-crowned Kinglet

28-Hermit Thrush

1-Tennessee Warbler

2-Orange-crowned Warbler

3-Black-throated Blue Warbler

1-American Tree Sparrow

1-Fox Sparrow

2-Surf Scoter

Oct 15

160-Golden-crowned Kinglet

205-Ruby-crowned Kinglet

1-Blue-headed Vireo

1-Black-throated Green Warbler

1-Chipping Sparrow

1-Lincoln's Sparrow

Oct 17

20-Brant (1st record for TTPBRS)

5-White-winged Scoter

1-American Golden-Plover

1-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

1-Least Flycatcher

65-Black-capped Chickadee

28-American Pipit

1-Fox Sparrow

16-Pine Siskin

Oct 18

14-Red-breasted Merganser

Oct 19

3-Long-tailed Duck

Birds Banded: Aug 5-Oct 20


Species Recorded: Aug 5-Oct 20



Fall Migration at TTPBRS- October 7-13

Golden-crowned Kinglet (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Autumn seemed to finally arrive at the very end of our second week of October coverage at TTPBRS. Right on schedule, massive numbers of songbirds were sampled when the weather was suitable for fieldwork.
October 7 was cancelled due to wind and rain. Conditions on the 8th were very warm (high of 27.4 Celsius) with light southerlies, which likely held birds that arrived on the previous day with the warm front. A total of 112 birds were banded during a morning of thick fog at Tommy Thompson Park. Raptors were observed in decent numbers with 55 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 2 Bald Eagles amongst 5 species. Black-capped Chickadees have been increasing steadily in numbers in recent weeks, which may be a sign of an impending irruption into southern Ontario. Kinglets, Nashville Warblers and Myrtle Warblers were the most abundant species banded on the day. Our coverage on October 9 was reduced due to high winds and rain. The plaintive calls of Golden-crowned Kinglets and Brown Creepers reached a fevered pitch by late morning as hundreds descended from the poplars and birches. A total of 75 birds were captured in just 2 hours of effort. Strong south winds on October 10 forced us to close nets early. Diversity of waterfowl species was impressive as Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon and Common Goldeneye were spotted. A return to more "normal" weather on October 11 was welcomed as light northerlies and cooler temperatures brought increased numbers of American Robin and Red-breasted Nuthatch along with singles of Orange-crowned Warbler, Dunlin and a late Magnolia Warbler. More bird activity was evident on the following morning as 193 birds were banded and season firsts of Fox Sparrow, Pine Siskin and American Tree Sparrow were detected. Notable on the day was the banding of 21 Chickadees (45 total detected) and 36 Slate-colored Juncos. Temperatures dipped to a low of 5 Celcius with strong winds on October 13th, once again reducing our coverage to just the daily census.

News and Notes

Northern Saw-whet Owls are migrating through Ontario in incredible numbers and so far we have banded 151 owls for the season, which is less than half completed. This bodes well for our first Owls Up Close event for members of TTPBRS, scheduled for October 30th! If you are a member and have not yet registered for the event, please sign-up soon to reserve your space.

A banded owl we captured in early October was originally banded as a juvenile by Whitefish Point Bird Observatory in Michigan on July 5, 2007, during their summer studies of nesting Northern Saw-whet Owls!


Oct 8
2-Bald Eagle
9-Northern Harrier
1-Eastern Wood-Pewee
110-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3-Gray-cheeked Thrush
1-Red-eyed Vireo
5-Nashville Warbler
14-Black-throated Blue Warbler
1-Blackpoll Warbler
1-Eastern Towhee

Oct 9
1-American Golden-Plover
1-Northern Parula

Oct 10
1-Common Goldeneye
12-American Crow
1-Field Sparrow

Oct 11
15-Red-breasted Nuthatch
90-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1-Orange-crowned Warbler
2-Magnolia Warbler
120-Myrtle Warbler

Oct 12
39-Turkey Vulture
4-Red-tailed Hawk
12-Eastern Phoebe
45-Black-capped Chickadee
4-White-breasted Nuthatch
42-Hermit Thrush
2-Blue-headed Vireo
1-Blackburnian Warbler
1-American Redstart
1-American Tree Sparrow
1-Fox Sparrow
6-Swamp Sparrow
120-Slate-colored Junco
1-Pine Siskin

Birds Banded: Aug 5-Oct 13

Species Recorded: Aug 5-Oct 13


Fall Migration at TTPBRS-Sept 30-Oct 6

Northern Saw-whet Owl (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Conditions at Tommy Thompson Park on the Toronto lakeshore have been unusually warm which has severely delayed leaf fall. It is remarkable how green and dense the vegetation is for the time of year. The position of the jet stream to our north was a deterrent to southbound migrants during the first 5 days of the week. October is easily our busiest month at TTPBRS and so far we have had just a couple of good pushes of migrants. The return to more "normal" weather during the next week should stimulate a large movement of songbirds, owls and waterfowl.
The final day of September was warm with light southerlies. Remnants of the fallout on September 29 were still evident on the 30th as 62 birds were banded and 8 recaptured. Several boisterous Blue Jays were captured with their prey (wooly bear caterpillars and praying mantis) and decent numbers of thrushes, kinglets and sparrows were recorded. More south winds on October 1st contributed to a quiet day at TTPBRS, with just 20 birds banded. The variety and abundance of waterfowl remained constant throughout the week with decent numbers of dabblers but very few diving ducks. The aquatic habitats have been ideal for shorebirds for well over a month now and yet few shorebirds have been observed save for good numbers of Killdeer and the odd Black-bellied or American Golden-Plover. Wind and rain was responsible for just 2 hours of coverage on October 2. A total of 8 birds were captured on October 3, which is unusually slow for October at Tommy Thompson Park. The first Common Goldeneye of the fall was spotted. Later that evening, owls were on the move and 34 Northern Saw-whet Owls were captured. Diurnal migration picked up on October 4 as 24 American Pipits were tallied and increased numbers of Eastern Phoebe, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden- and Ruby-crowned Kinglets and White-throated Sparrows were noted. Calm conditions that evening resulted in a substantial movement of birds, with 119 banded on the morning of October 5. The first Field Sparrow and Orange-crowned Warbler of this fall were logged. Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper and White-throated Sparrows were the most abundant passerines detected. Also noteworthy during the morning was the banding of a late Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and high counts of Blue-headed Vireo (12) and Black-capped Chickadee (22). Moderate numbers of migrants were evident on October 6 as 42 birds were banded and season "firsts" of Ruddy Turnstone and American Coot were observed.
HIGHLIGHTS (banding totals in bold)
Sep 30
4-Northern Harrier
8-Sharp-shinned Hawk
1-Northern Goshawk
9-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
105-Golden-crowned Kinglet
14-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Oct 1
1-Common Loon
12-Winter Wren
Oct 2
2-Black-bellied Plover
1-Northern Saw-whet Owl (daytime)
1-American Redstart
1-Pectoral Sandpiper
Oct 3
1-Common Goldeneye
1-American Golden-Plover
1-Purple Finch
Oct 4
24-Green-winged Teal
2-American Golden-Plover
1-Downy Woodpecker
2-Eastern Phoebe
26-American Pipit
1-Red-eyed Vireo
1-Eastern Towhee
Oct 5
1-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
22-Black-capped Chickadee
16-Brown Creeper
70-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
20-Hermit Thrush
1-Brown Thrasher
12-Blue-headed Vireo
1-Orange-crowned Warbler
1-Northern Parula
1-Bay-breasted Warbler
1-Field Sparrow
30-Slate-colored Junco
Oct 6
1-American Coot
1-Ruddy Turnstone
5-Gray-cheeked Thrush
24-American Pipit
1-Red-eyed Vireo
1-Blackpoll Warbler
20-Rusty Blackbird
Birds Banded: Aug 5-Oct 6

Species Recorded: Aug 5-Oct 6



Fall Migration at TTPBRS- September 23-29

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The trickle turned into a torrent this week as thrushes, kinglets, sparrows and other "late fall" migrants arrived en masse. This is typical for late September when most neotropical migrants have moved south and the Great Lakes region suddenly abounds with the birds of October.

Moderate numbers of birds were observed and banded on September 23. The most unusual sighting of the day was a flyover
Dickcissel, the 3rd record for the station since 2003. Blue Jays have been moving through on a daily basis during the last two weeks and 343 were recorded on the 23rd. Thirteen warbler species were recorded including Northern Parula, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll and a lateish Northern Waterthrush. Migration slowed down on the 24th for the start of the Winged Migration program for schools. Hermit Thrushes, White-throated Sparrows and Myrtle Warblers were the most conspicuous species on the day. September 25 was much the same with unusually warm temperatures (high of 29.1) and south winds, which resulted in another quiet day, with 21 birds banded. Small numbers of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren and Golden-crowned Kinglet were notable. The 26th was even slower as just 11 birds were banded in 6 hours of effort. The winds switched to the west around late morning, prompting 1100 Blue Jays to quietly wing over TTPBRS. Later that evening, a rainy cold front moved in around midnight during a session of Saw-whet Owl banding and many birds were heard descending from the skies to seek refuge at TTPBRS. The 173 birds banded the next morning revealed a significant number of Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes and Myrtle Warblers. Also of note during the morning were the captures of 2 late Least Flycatchers and 1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. September 28 was also active as 91 birds were banded, including 12 Blue Jays, 5 Black-throated Blue Warblers and a Northern Parula. There was no break in the action on 29th as substantial numbers of kinglets, creepers, phoebes and White-crowned Sparrows arrived on the Toronto lakeshore. By the end of the morning, a total of 219 birds of 26 species had been banded. Also of note during the day was the observation of 3 Red Bats, which together with the two captured earlier in the week is easily the most we have recorded at TTPBRS in one week. The Red Bat and the Silver-haired Bat are described as being "highly migratory" but little is known about their movements.

Overall, it was a superb week of fieldwork and education at TTPBRS. Classes from grades 5-7 were welcomed daily during the week along with a group of students from Centennial College on September 28. Northern Saw-whet Owl monitoring has begun for fall 2007 and a total of 4 owls have been banded already. Normally we don't start encountering these birds in the nets until the second week of October.

HIGHLIGHTS (banding totals in bold)

Sep 23
3-White-breasted Nuthatch
2-Winter Wren
9-Hermit Thrush
4-Magnolia Warbler
15-Black-throated Green Warbler
22-Palm Warbler
1-Northern Waterthrush
3-Lincoln's Sparrow

Sep 24
17-Hermit Thrush
2-American Redstart

Sep 25
1-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
2-Winter Wren
9-Golden-crowned Kinglet
1-Cape May Warbler

Sep 26
9-American Wigeon
1100-Blue Jay
1-Red-eyed Vireo
1-Chestnut-sided Warbler

Sep 27
1-Bald Eagle
10-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
2-Least Flycatcher
1-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
17-Gray-cheeked Thrush
47-Myrtle Warbler
1-Blackburnian Warbler
1-Northern Waterthrush
130-White-throated Sparrow

Sep 28
11-Northern Harrier
5-American Kestrel
12-Blue Jay
20-Brown Creeper
13-Winter Wren
2-Red-eyed Vireo
1-Northern Parula
140-Myrtle Warbler

Sep 29
1-Horned Lark
20-Red-breasted Nuthatch
220-Golden-crowned Kinglet (
78 banded)
1-Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
4-Blue-headed Vireo
1-American Redstart
1-Northern Waterthrush
18-Cedar Waxwing
32-White-crowned Sparrow
40-Slate-colored Junco

Birds Banded: Aug 5-Sept 29

Species Observed: Aug 5-Sept 29