Station Operations Update

This summer saw the departure of our dedicated TTPBRS coordinator who decided to pursue other opportunities outside of the city. Unfortunately, we were not able to find a qualified replacement in time for fall migration and we relied on an incredible group of TTPBRS volunteers who ran the station undertaking the important census work. Thank you!

A new coordinator will be in place for spring migration and we will resume full station operations. In the meantime, should you have any questions please contact us at or 416-661-6600 ext. 5233


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: June 3-9, 2008

Polyphemus Moth (Seabrooke Leckie)

The Spring 2008 Migration Monitoring season has come to an end after a muggy and buggy final week with very few migrants sampled. We have closed the season with just under 1900 birds banded and 189 species observed. The mark of 189 species is exceptional, 11 species more than the previous record high season for diversity (2007). This is likely to be a function of increased available time for casual observations due to the record low abundance sampled in the mist nets. This is one of the reasons why TTPBRS is careful to record both standard and non-standard data sets to limit variables and facilitate analysis.

The final week was all about nesting birds with the frenzied activity of the many Yellow Warblers, Gray Catbirds, Warbling Vireos, Eastern Kingbirds and Baltimore Orioles that call TTPBRS home. A few migrants were found on June 3, which included a Green Heron and a Myrtle Warbler. A total of 16 birds were banded for the morning of June 5, which included a couple of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers and a female Black-throated Blue Warbler. June 6 was noticeably more active with flycatchers as 4 Great Crested and the season's first Olive-sided Flycatcher were tallied. Also of note on this day was the banding of a record late White-throated Sparrow. Fifteen mist nets ran for 6 hours on June 7, which yielded just 6 birds, the highlight of which was a Veery. Common Loons were observed quietly passing overhead on a daily basis throughout the week and numbers of arctic-bound Canada Geese peaked at 105 on June 7.

So there you have it, spring season number 6 is in the books (soon to be in the computer!). With each passing year and each milestone reached, it becomes more and more apparent how vital the support from the community is for the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station. A big thank you to all of the steadfast volunteers and the donors and partners for the study and protection of birds in Toronto!


June 3
1-Common Loon
1-Green Heron
1-Myrtle Warbler
1-Orchard Oriole

June 5
3-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1-Black-throated Blue Warbler
8-Blackpoll Warbler

June 6
1-Common Loon
7-Semipalmated Plover
1-Olive-sided Flycatcher
4-Great Crested Flycatcher
1-Myrtle Warbler
1-White-throated Sparrow

June 7
2-Common Loon
105-Canada Goose
1-Purple Martin

Birds Banded: April 1-June 9

Species Recorded: April 1-June 9


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: May 27-June 2, 2008

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler-macro (Seabrooke Leckie)

This is the penultimate update of the spring 2008 season, an 'oddball' season by TTPBRS standards. Weather for much of the season has been cool with high and persistent winds (usually from all directions except south!). This, and the fact that wintering bird populations are at a low ebb from last summer's lackluster breeding season, are likely strong contributing factors to our slowest spring migration yet for migrant abundance. It is important to acknowledge that periodic shifts in population densities are natural and that these "quiet" seasons are critical to monitor. In other words, the quiet days are no less significant for our studies than the busy ones!

Black-billed Cuckoo appeared in the study area for the first time this year on May 27, an otherwise unremarkable morning with strong northerlies and just 13 birds banded. By this time, the vegetation in the count area was quickly maturing, providing both insects and suitable cover for the late neotropical migrants such as Blackpoll Warbler and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Six flycatcher species were noted on May 28 along with a light movement of Catharus thrushes (e.g. Swainson's, Gray-cheeked), a few vireos and a lone Least Sandpiper. Species composition was much the same on May 29, although more Canada and Wilson's Warblers were evident. Winds switched to south on May 30, which brought a small dose of new migrants to the area. A total of 39 birds were banded, which included 12 Swainson's Thrushes, and small numbers of 9 warbler species. While the water levels have receded substantially in the last couple of weeks, there is still an absence of suitable habitat for shorebirds on peninsula D. Despite this, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover and Dunlin were detected flying west during the morning of May 31. The only Philadelphia Vireo of the season was also noted on this day. High winds from the west returned around midmorning on June 1. At long last, our first Purple Martin of the spring was heard before the wind forced complete net closure. Some of our quietest days of the year occur in June when the weather just isn't cooperating and there is a comparatively low volume of birds remaining to pass through. A total of 14 birds were banded on June 2 with 41 species tallied on the daily census. A Black Tern flew over during the census, the second record of this species for TTPBRS and first since 2004!

The final update for spring 2008 will be posted on June 11 as our last day is scheduled for June 9.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding totals in bold)

May 27
1-Black-billed Cuckoo
5-Swainson's Thrush
1-Myrtle Warbler
8-Common Yellowthroat

May 28
1-Least Sandpiper
4-Traill's Flycatcher
2-Northern Rough-winged Swallow
3-Gray-cheeked Thrush

May 29
15-Black-bellied Plover
1-Red-breasted Nuthatch
11-Swainson's Thrush
5-Red-eyed Vireo
7-Blackpoll Warbler
2-Canada Warbler

May 30
7-Gray-cheeked Thrush
12-Swainson's Thrush
2-Chestnut-sided Warbler

May 31
8-Red-breasted Nuthatch
1-Semipalmated Plover
3-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
22-Semipalmated Sandpiper
9-Wilson's Warbler
16-Blackpoll Warbler

June 1
1-Purple Martin
1-Tennessee Warbler

June 2
110-Canada Goose
1-Black-billed Cuckoo
8-Traill's Flycatcher
3-Purple Martin
1-Black Tern (2nd record for TTPBRS)

Individuals Banded: April 1-June 2

Species Recorded: April 1-June 2


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: May 20-26, 2008

Northern Parula

A light breeze from the south on May 20 stimulated an impressive movement, which brought several new arrivals and a total of 78 species during that morning. A total of 151 birds of 39 species were banded, the highest single day total of spring 2008. Swainson's Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Northern Waterthrush and American Redstart were the most numerous species banded during the morning. Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Wilson's, Blackpoll and Mourning Warblers were all new arrivals for the spring. High winds and cool temperatures arrived the following day, leading to less bird activity in the study area. Many birds from the previous day opted to stopover, as evidenced by the 25 individuals recaptured. The banding of a female Cerulean Warbler and the observation of a Yellow-throated Vireo were both exceptional records as these were both new for the TTPBRS Migration Monitoring Program! More high winds on May 22 forced many migrants to linger in sheltered areas on the Toronto lakeshore as recaptures (31) outnumbered new bandings (30) for the first time this spring. Warblers were well represented during the morning as 19 species were recorded and some high counts were noted such as 24 American Redstart and 28 Magnolia. May 23 was quite interesting as the strong north winds never relented and yet an increase in new migrants with very high fat scores were sampled. This is likely due to the many restless and corpulent migrants dispersing between greenspaces in wait for suitable winds. Swainson's Thrushes and Red-eyed Vireos were more apparent, adding some late spring flavour to the masses of warblers present. A total of 10 Blackburnian Warblers (including 4 males in a net at once!) was a standout amongst the 23 warbler species noted. More "weighty" warblers arrived on May 24 with strong north winds. Cape May Warbler, Myrtle Warbler and Canada Warbler were more abundant this day and the first flock of Whimbrel in 2008 was recorded. Winds shifted to light southerlies for May 25, which resulted in the first significant wave of empidonax flycatchers, Gray-cheeked and Swainson's Thrushes and another strong push of warblers. Common Nighthawk, Orchard Oriole and Winter Wren were noteworthy sightings. The final day of the update period was a little less busy but still very productive for surveys and net checks. The composition of migrants had changed sharply overnight as thrushes, flycatchers and Cedar Waxwings took centre stage after a mass scale departure of most warbler species. A record high total of 30 Common Yellowthroats was significant (banded and observed).

The Spring Migration Monitoring Program will operate on a daily basis until June 9, so we have 11 more days left of fieldwork to look forward to. The bulk of thrushes, vireos and flycatchers are still yet to come through and there are always a few surprises in store!

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding totals in bold)

May 20
7-Long-tailed Duck
1-Ruby-throated Hummingbird
3-Eastern Wood-Pewee
1-Great Crested Flycatcher
30-Swainson's Thrush
4-Wood Thrush
8-Red-eyed Vireo
1-Orange-crowned Warbler
2-Northern Parula
39-Magnolia Warbler (58 total detected)
7-Palm Warbler

May 21
1-Peregrine Falcon
2-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
24-American Redstart
1-Cerulean Warbler
1-Yellow-throated Vireo

May 22
55-Chimney Swift
1-Cape May Warbler
1-Cliff Swallow

May 23
1-Hairy Woodpecker
12-Blue Jay
4-Tennessee Warbler
2-Orange-crowned Warbler
4-Cape May Warbler
4-Blackburnian Warbler (10 total detected)
3-Bay-breasted Warbler
11-Northern Waterthrush
6-Wilson's Warbler
10-Rose-breasted Grosbeak

May 24
2-Blue-headed Vireo
14-Chestnut-sided Warbler
7-Cape May Warbler
5-Palm Warbler
2-Blackpoll Warbler
6-Canada Warbler

May 25
1-Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1-Alder Flycatcher
12-Least Flycatcher
1-Winter Wren
1-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
17-Swainson's Thrush
4-Gray-cheeked Thrush
30-Magnolia Warbler
16-Myrtle Warbler
20-American Redstart
13-Wilson's Warbler
1-Orchard Oriole
1-Common Nighthawk

May 26
210-Cedar Waxwing
1-Blue-winged Warbler
3-Mourning Warbler
30-Common Yellowthroat
11-Lincoln's Sparrow

Individuals Banded: April 1-May 26

Species Recorded: April 1-May 26


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: May 13-19, 2008

Magnolia Warbler (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The period of May 13-19 could be regarded as the "sweet spot" of spring migration as the last few early migrants intermingle with the peak for neotropicals in mid-May. This is one of the most popular weeks for birders at Point Pelee and other famous migrant traps in eastern North America. However, the quality of a May birding day is more dictated by weather systems than the calender and this week at TTPBRS was a good example. Conditions were unusually cool for much of the week with winds dominating from the north. A total of 29 birds were banded on May 13, which included our first Orange-crowned Warbler of the spring. Light southerlies on the 14th produced a small push of migrants from the south as 69 birds were banded during the morning. Just 10 warbler species were noted, of which Magnolia and Myrtle were most numerous. A flyover Solitary Sandpiper and the arrival of Swainson's Thrush were also noteworthy. May 15 was a quieter day with 17 birds banded and 30 species recorded on census. Red-eyed Vireo made its first appearance for the season and another Orchard Oriole was spotted. Spring 2008 has been remarkable for the number of Orchard Orioles observed. One was observed in each of 2006 and 2007 and thus far we have seen six individuals in our study area alone. The arrival of Gray-cheeked Thrush and Green Heron were highlights of the 16th, when just 16 birds were banded in six hours of effort. Warblers were few and far between at this point, and much of the activity in the study area was due to whirling pairs of nesting birds such as Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, American Robin, Warbling Vireo and Gray Catbird, among others. The Yellow Warblers are particularly abundant, with conservative estimates of around 20-30 pairs! Wind and rain arrived mid-morning on May 17, forcing us to close up early for the day. Monitoring revealed no major changes in the composition and abundance of migrants that morning, although an especially vocal and 'well-dressed' Canada Warbler was well appreciated. The change in weather brought increased numbers of migrants to the site on May 18, with 51 birds banded before nets had to be closed by 10am. Warblers were well represented in the surveys, especially Magnolia (14 banded), along with Least Flycatcher, Veery and Swainson's Thrush. A biting wind blew from the northwest on May 19, which would normally translate to another quiet day; however, migrants were found in high numbers in sheltered areas where midges were abundant. The highlight of the day was a female Summer Tanager observed on census, a first record for TTPBRS!

NEWSLETTER- The spring issue of FlightNotes is still forthcoming and we apologize for the delay, it has been an extremely busy past couple of months!

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding totals in bold)

May 13
1-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1-Orange-crowned Kinglet
2-Western Palm Warbler
2-Indigo Bunting

May 14
1-Solitary Sandpiper
1-Great Crested Flycatcher
6-Swainson's Thrush
1-Wood Thrush
2-American Pipit
1-Scarlet Tanager
15-Rose-breasted Grosbeak
13-Lincoln's Sparrow
40-White-throated Sparrow

May 15
1-Eastern Phoebe
2-Blue-headed Vireo
1-Red-eyed Vireo
2-Indigo Bunting
1-Orchard Oriole

May 16
1-Gray-cheeked Thrush
2-Western Palm Warbler

May 17
8-Least Flycatcher
1-Wood Thrush
1-Canada Warbler
6-Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1-Orchard Oriole

May 18
3-Swainson's Thrush
14-Magnolia Warbler (25 Daily Total)
2-Bay-breasted Warbler
8-Northern Waterthrush
14-Baltimore Oriole

May 19
30-Yellow Warbler
1-Summer Tanager (1st for TTPBRS)

Individuals Banded: April 1-May 19

Species Recorded: April 1-May 19

Cerulean Warbler

This female Cerulean Warbler was banded this morning at TTPBRS. This is the first record of the species for TTPBRS and to my knowledge the first observed at Tommy Thompson Park/Leslie Street Spit in at least 5 years. The Cerulean Warbler is considered the fastest declining warbler on the continent. Forest loss and fragmentation are key concerns for the future of the species and it is remarkable that they are still not listed as threatened in the endangered species act. The second Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas documented significant declines of Cerulean Warblers in Ontario since the early 1980's.


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: May 6-12, 2008

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

May 6-12, 2008, was a week with relatively few birds compared to previous spring seasons at TTPBRS. North winds were dominant during the period, which must have stalled north bound migrants. However, even a quiet week at TTPBRS is filled with discovery and wonder as some old friends returned, over 350 visitors were welcomed, and some new records were established!

May 6 was the most active day of the week as 77 birds were banded and 72 species recorded in the six hour count period. An impressive 40 Palm Warblers were noted, their buzzy trills seeming to echo from all directions throughout the morning. Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, Palm and Myrtle Warblers were the most abundant species captured. Great Crested Flycatcher, newly arrived, and 10 warbler species were documented. Light south winds on May 7 pushed some migrants in from the south as another 74 birds were banded and just 6 recaptured. Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush and Eastern Kingbird were spotted for the first time in 2008. A group of 103 curious and eager students from The Bishop Strachan School were welcomed late morning. North winds returned to hold the birds up again on May 8. Just 28 birds were banded during an abbreviated morning of coverage due to high winds. A Northern Parula was banded, and another tally of 40 Palm Warblers were notable. A cool and windy May 9 was even quieter with just 14 birds banded and 7 recaptured during the 2.5 hours of coverage. A Brown-headed Cowbird was observed attacking and eventually drowning a rival male cowbird to death in the north slough of the study area. This was a fascinating, if somewhat morbid, event to behold and should be documented for the official record. May 10 was the Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival, which ran from 7am-4pm. The day-long event was very well attended and the birds did not disappoint. Thanks to all the volunteers, University of Guelph Wild Bird Clinic and the Fatal Light Awareness Program for their support! A record-setting estimate of 5-7 Orchard Orioles on the spit was the highlight of the day. Those pesky winds from the north forced an early closure once again on May 11. As expected, the weather kept things quiet as just 25 birds were banded. Twelve Least Flycatchers, a singing Tennessee Warbler and 10 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were noteworthy.



We are pleased to report that a good number of returning breeders were found this past week, which included a couple of Yellow Warblers and a Brown Thrasher originally banded in spring 2003!


The spring issue of FlightNotes, newsletter of the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station, will be coming to you very soon. A spring and summer slate of members' events are included in the issue.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding totals in bold)

May 6
90-Bonaparte's Gull
2-Least Flycatcher
9-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1-Great Crested Flycatcher
4-Magnolia Warbler
85-Myrtle Warbler
40-Palm Warbler
2-Savannah Sparrow
130-White-throated Sparrow

May 7
3-Least Flycatcher
1-Eastern Kingbird
61-Blue Jay
1-Wood Thrush
10-American Pipit
2-Northern Parula
1-Scarlet Tanager
8-Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1-Rusty Blackbird

May 8
1-Northern Parula
40-Palm Warbler
1-Lincoln's Sparrow

May 9
7-Common Loon
2-Chimney Swift
1-Northern Waterthrush
1-Orchard Oriole

May 10
2-Orchard Oriole

May 11
1-Blackburnian Warbler
8-Rose-breasted Grosbeak
8-Baltimore Oriole

May 12
1-Lesser Yellowlegs
12-Least Flycatcher
1-Wood Thrush
1-Tennessee Warbler
10-Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Season Banding Total

Season Species Total


Brown Thrasher

A Brown Thrasher bounded into one of our nets this morning. This in and of itself wouldn't be unusual except that this particular bird is at least 7 years old - well shy of the 12 years, 10 months longevity record for the species, but still a significant record.

We noticed that the band was quite worn and thin but still quite readable. I took this top view photo of the old band with a new band right beside it. The aluminum has worn to almost half of its original thickness. It turns out that this bird was originally banded on May 26, 2003 as a male weighing 70.2g. The bird was encountered again on May 15, 2005 and not detected again until today when it weighed 70.2g!


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: April 28-May 5, 2008

Whip-poor-will (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The fourth update of the spring season has always featured lots of new arrivals and impressive movements of White-throated Sparrows. This week was no exception as weather brought both on May 3rd! April 29 was cool with north winds. Expectedly, the birding was a little slow as 29 birds were banded and 29 species recorded on the daily census. Least Flycatcher and Common Yellowthroat were new arrivals that morning. April 30 was even quieter, which was made up for by the capture and banding of an immature Red-tailed Hawk, the second capture of the species since 2003! The turn of the month brought a few familiar bird species to the station including Savannah and White-crowned Sparrow. A total of 12 birds were banded that morning indicating that migrants were few and far between. A change in the weather on May 2 brought substantial rain to the Toronto lakeshore, further raising the water levels in the study area. A rather quiet male Nashville Warbler was observed during a wet census. Overnight showers and early morning fog struck again in early May at TTPBRS, bringing 15 new arrivals and a remarkable volume of migrants on May 3. A total of 123 birds were banded and 14 warbler species recorded during a busy morning. Whip-poor-will, Brewster's Warbler and Grasshopper Sparrow were just a few of the many highlights. A remarkable 55 Palm Warblers were tallied, which is atypically high for the species at TTPBRS. Higher winds on May 4 limited the bird activity to some extent, however a respectable 58 birds were banded during the morning, which featured 5 more new arrivals. Right on schedule, Yellow-rumped Warbler and White-throated Sparrow were easily the most numerous species during the week. So, after a slow start the season has picked up, with the neotropical migrants appearing in moderate to high numbers.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding totals in bold)

Apr 29
3-Blue Jay
1-Red-breasted Nuthatch
32-White-throated Sparrow

Apr 30
1-Red-tailed Hawk
1-Dark-eyed Junco
1-Forster's Tern

May 1
1-Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1-Yellow Warbler
1-Savannah Sparrow
1-White-crowned Sparrow

May 2
5-Wood Duck
8-Bonaparte's Gull
1-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
1-Nashville Warbler
45-White-throated Sparrow
6-Rusty Blackbird

May 3
3-House Wren
28-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1-Gray Catbird
1-Blue-headed Vireo
3-Northern Parula
7-Yellow Warbler
1-Chestnut-sided Warbler
1-Brewster's Warbler
1-Magnolia Warbler
5-Black-throated Blue Warbler
95-Myrtle Warbler
7-Black-throated Green Warbler
5-Blackburnian Warbler
55-Palm Warbler
1-American Redstart
28-Chipping Sparrow
1-Grasshopper Sparrow
140-White-throated Sparrow
12-Rusty Blackbird (2 banded)

May 4
1-Black-bellied Plover
1-Chimney Swift
2-Least Flycatcher
2-Warbling Vireo

May 5
6-American Pipit
1-Rose-breasted Grosbeak
2-Baltimore Oriole

Season Banding Total

Season Species Total

Dan Derbyshire
Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station
Toronto & Region Conservation


Did Your Shopping List Kill a Songbird?
Published: March 30, 2008

Migratory songbirds are suffering mysterious population declines, and pesticides may well be to blame.

Click here for the full article in the New York Times.

Sights and Sounds at TTPBRS

Untitled from Dan Derbyshire (TTPBRS) on Vimeo.


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: April 22-28, 2008

Rusty Blackbird (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

The third week of our spring season was rather low key on the migration front once again. Last autumn at TTPBRS was our slowest fall ever in terms of migrant abundance. The high proportion of adults to young indicated low breeding productivity for most species, which would likely result in a reduced flow of birds in the following spring. This season could be shaping up much like spring 2004 when a very quiet April was followed by an extremely busy month of May. May 10, 2004 was certainly one of the most memorable days in the short history of the station as 409 birds were captured with just 6 of 15 nets in operation. Overnight rain and dense morning fog combined on that day to cause an astounding migration event, which featured 75 Bobolinks singing from the cottonwoods (a Bobolink has not been observed at ground level since)!

April 22 was warm with light east winds. The day featured moderate numbers of Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and White-throated Sparrow. Our second Red-bellied Woodpecker of the spring was observed on April 23, a day when just 19 birds were banded. April 24 was a mirror of the previous day with moderate numbers of April migrants. The arrival of Palm Warbler on April 25 was a welcome sighting, although no significant changes in the migrant array were noted. A full cast of 6 volunteers were pleased by some new arrivals and increased activity on April 26. Yellow Warbler, Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Waterthrush were all new for the season. A total of 49 birds were banded, which included 33 White-throated Sparrows. Field Sparrow and Northern Flickers were also more numerous than previous days. TTPBRS was host to a Bird Handling and Identification Workshop for FLAP on April 27. Just 6 birds were banded (8 recaptures) on the day but the participants were more than happy with the selection. Things got cold, wet and windy on the 28th. No banding occurred this day but a large contingent of various swallow species were observed feeding along the southern shoreline.

Baillie Birdathon

The 2008 Baillie Birdathon for TTPBRS will be a month long activity in May and we hope that you will consider sponsoring Bob McDonald or perhaps even doing your own birdathon to help birds in Toronto! This annual fundraiser is key to the sustainable operation of TTPBRS going forward. You can learn more about all of the fantastic prizes, benefits, events and activities at the website of The Conservation Foundation of Greater Toronto. Also, don't forget about the Tommy Thompson Park Spring Bird Festival on May 10! Click here for more information on this exciting event.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding totals in bold)

Apr 22
1-Sharp-shinned Hawk
2-Cooper's Hawk
1-House Wren
24-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
18-Hermit Thrush
8-Myrtle Warbler
4-Red-winged Blackbird

Apr 23
4-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
2-Golden-crowned Kinglet
3-Brown Thrasher
35-Myrtle Warbler
55-White-throated Sparrow
1-Red-bellied Woodpecker (2nd record of 2008)

Apr 24
5-American Wigeon
1-Downy Woodpecker
1-Purple Finch

Apr 25
4-Greater Yellowlegs
1-Palm Warbler
45-White-throated Sparrow

Apr 26
1-Rough-legged Hawk (2nd spring record for TTPBRS)
1-Yellow Warbler
1-Northern Waterthrush
2-Field Sparrow
33-White-throated Sparrow (80 Standard Total)

Apr 27
1-Northern Harrier
2-Spotted Sandpiper
1-Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
2-American Pipit

Apr 28
25-Northern Rough-winged Swallow
20-Bank Swallow
18-Barn Swallow

Season Banding Total

Season Species Total


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: April 15-21, 2008

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The third week of Migration Monitoring this spring was exceptionally warm with record high water levels. Water striders, Leopard Frogs and the occasional Mallard have been common sights in net lanes 4 and 9 at the south edge of our count area! The high pressure system that lingered throughout the week produced little in the way of landbird migration as daily banding totals ranged from a low of 9 (Apr 15) to a high of 27 (Apr 19). Observations of doppler radar have indicated weak nocturnal migrant passage, which suggests that we haven't just been bypassed due to the weather. Common Terns arrived en masse on April 15 and were joined by first sightings of Northern Rough-winged Swallow and Red-necked Grebe for spring 2008. April 17 saw a shift to south winds, which likely caused a small increase in numbers of Hermit Thrush and Myrtle Warbler. A late Northern Saw-whet Owl was also spotted that morning. The following day was similar in terms of weather and birds found at TTPBRS. Highlights of the day included the arrival of Brown Thrashers and a total of 18 Myrtle Warblers detected during the morning. April 19 was a bit more active, particularly for 30 White-throated Sparrows busily tossing leaf litter for emerging insects. A Pine Warbler, Hairy Woodpecker and the first banding of a Red-bellied Woodpecker were highlights of the morning! Not a great deal to report for the following day when 20 birds were banded, although 8 Brown Thrashers provided a diverse soundtrack to the morning. Bonaparte's Gulls have been numerous this spring, reaching a high of 26 on April 21. Eight Common Loons and the first House Wren for the spring were also noteworthy.

Recovery Alert: A Northern Saw-whet Owl recovered at TTPBRS on October 16, 2007 was originally banded a little less than a month earlier on September 21, 2007 at Observatoire d'oiseaux de Tadoussac, Quebec. This distance covers a minimum of 820 km in a southwestern direction. This record was the 29th exchange of an NSWO between TTPBRS and another station!

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding records in bold)

Apr 15
1-Red-necked Grebe
2-Horned Grebe
18-Golden-crowned Kinglet
3-Myrtle Warbler
2-Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Apr 16
7-Common Loon
11-Northern Shoveler
2-Horned Lark
1-Bank Swallow
1-Barn Swallow
1-American Tree Sparrow
1-Field Sparrow

Apr 17
2-Northern Pintail
2-Greater Yellowlegs
1-Northern Saw-whet Owl
12-Hermit Thrush
8-Myrtle Warbler

Apr 18
5-Great Egret
10-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2-Brown Thrasher
18-Myrtle Warbler
1-Fox Sparrow
3-Swamp Sparrow

Apr 19
2-Cooper's Hawk
1-Hairy Woodpecker
12-Yellow-shafted Flicker
18-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
20-Hermit Thrush
6-Cedar Waxwing
1-Pine Warbler
30-White-throated Sparrow
1-Red-bellied Woodpecker (1st banding record for TTPBRS)

Apr 20
8-Brown Thrasher
3-Eastern Towhee
3-Chipping Sparrow

Apr 21
8-Common Loon
26-Bonaparte's Gull
1-House Wren

Season Banding Total: April 1-21

Season Species Total: April 1-21


Red-tailed Hawk at TTPBRS

Click here for HD version of this video clip (it will take a minute or two to load)
Untitled from Dan Derbyshire (TTPBRS) on Vimeo.

Baillie Birdathon 2008!

Northern Saw-whet Owl at TTP (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS) __________________________________________________________

The TTPBRS Baillie Birdathon in 2007 was a terrific achievement raising over $17,000 for the understanding and protection of birds in Toronto! This annual fundraiser is entering its third consecutive year and its growing success is due to the fabulous contributions of over 20 birdathoners and hundreds of birdathon sponsors. The Baillie Birdathon is vital to the permanent operation of the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station and we hope that you will consider supporting us in 2008!

What's in store for this year?

We are very excited to announce that Bob McDonald, the host of CBC's Quirks and Quarks program, will be our guest birdathoner this year! Bob will be doing his birdathon on May 10 at Tommy Thompson Park in conjunction with our Spring Bird Festival.

Bushnell Outdoor Products and Mountain Equipment Co-op continue to step up in support of birds in Toronto and have donated some fabulous prizes for TTPBRS birdathoners in 2008. The top prize is a pair of Elite binoculars donated by Bushnell! Our registered birdathoners will also receive a one year TTPBRS membership.

The Baillie Birdathon isn't just for expert birders as this fundraiser is all about helping and learning about birds and having fun! We are offering guided walks at Tommy Thompson Park so you can hone your identification skills. Come down to the Spring Bird Festival at Tommy Thompson Park on May 10, 2008!

TTPBRS is open to the public on weekends and holidays from April 1-June 9. We encourage you to invite your friends, family and colleagues to visit TTPBRS this spring to see the work we are doing, up close and personal!

Please consider joining the 2008 Baillie Birdathon in support of Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station!

How Can You Help?

Sign up for your own Birdathon in 2008!

Dan Derbyshire, TTPBRS Coordinator


Sponsor our guest birdathoner Bob McDonald!

You can sponsor Bob online by clicking here
(More information for both sponsors and birdathoners is found in the attached brochures)


Dan Derbyshire
Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station

Toronto and Region Conservation


Migration Monitoring at TTPBRS: April 8-14, 2008

Fox Sparrows (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

[The photo above compares two subspecies of Fox Sparrow. The bottom two photos show P.i.iliaca, the eastern subspecies of the "Red" Fox Sparrow group while the top two show P.i.zaboria, the central subspecies of the "Red" group. P.i.zaboria breeds from Alaska to Manitoba while P.i.iliaca ranges from Manitoba to Newfoundland. The more westerly subspecies has reduced rufous streaking on the head and underparts, giving a much grayer appearance]

The second week of the spring 2008 season at TTPBRS began with promising south winds and warm temperatures. Despite the favourable conditions, migration was quite sparse with just a sprinkling of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Eastern Phoebes, Brown Creepers, sparrows and kinglets. A large flock of 52 Bohemian Waxwings noisily announced their presence in the tall poplars near the tip of peninsula D on April 8. This was the first record of this northern species for TTPBRS, which was followed by the 2nd record on April 9 and the third on April 10! Migration remained light into the 9th when rain arrived in Toronto around mid-morning. Season firsts of Purple Finch and Eastern Towhee were noted. April 10 was seasonal with moderate north winds. A Mourning Cloak was sighted late morning, which was a highlight of a rather slow day for birding (just 5 birds banded in 6 hours). Steady rain and high winds moved in on the 11th, which succeeded in flooding two of our net lanes, a first since the spring of 2004. Thick fog settled over the area during the morning, which resulted in some excellent waterbird sightings. Red-throated Loon (2), Harlequin Duck and Ruddy Duck (5) were just a few of many waterbird species viewable from the north shore. Also observed during the day were season firsts of Great Egret, Blue-winged Teal, Merlin, Caspian Tern and Swamp Sparrow. On April 13 we welcomed a second group of students from York University who are heading to Costa Rica for a field course. Luckily a Winter Wren happened into a net, which enabled us to offer a live banding demonstration for the group. New for the season on this day were Myrtle Warbler, Northern Goshawk and Barn Swallow. April 14 was eerily quiet as just 9 birds were banded on the day. High diversity and abundance of waterbirds were recorded but very few passerines were evident.

Despite low overall numbers, the birding at TTPBRS has been fantastic with over 100 species having been observed in just two weeks! If you have not yet been down to Tommy Thompson Park, now would be a great time as birds should be arriving in high numbers with the increasing temperatures and south winds. The Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station is open to the public on weekend and holiday mornings when the park is open. A big thanks is due to Seabrooke Leckie for her wonderful photos used in the weekly updates. You can find more of her excellent photography and writing here. Thanks also to TTPBRS friend and all-around bird and bug guru Dave Beadle for confirming the above subspecies identification.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK (banding records in bold)

Apr 8

1-Horned Grebe

13-White-winged Scoter


2-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

5-Horned Lark

11-Hermit Thrush

7-Cedar Waxwing

52-Bohemian Waxwing (1st record for TTPBRS)

2-Fox Sparrow

6-White-throated Sparrow

Apr 9

4-Winter Wren

1-Eastern Towhee

40-Song Sparrow

1-Purple Finch

Apr 10

2-Great Black-backed Gull

1-Northern Saw-whet Owl

1-American Pipit

23-Bohemian Waxwing

Apr 12

12-Common Loon

2-Red-throated Loon

3-Horned Grebe

1-Great Egret

1-Harlequin Duck

5-Ruddy Duck

65-Red-breasted Merganser


1-Caspian Tern

1-Swamp Sparrow

3-Common Redpoll

Apr 13

1-Northern Goshawk

1-Northern Saw-whet Owl

6-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

1-Barn Swallow

1-Myrtle Warbler

6-Rusty Blackbird

Apr 14

1-Pied-billed Grebe

Season Banding Total: April 1-14





Season Species Total: April 1-14






Migrants on the move....

April 15, 2008- 930pm

Predictably, migrants are moving tonight with the light southerlies and warm air. The image above was taken from Buffalo NEXRAD. This picture indicates a light but developing movemnt of birds over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow with the change in weather and a strong nocturnal movement of birds. We always check on what is happening with the doppler radar before leaving for the day's fieldwork. The radar picks up migrating birds (and insects) as well as it picks up storms. Click here for a comprehensive tutorial on the subject of monitoring and researching migrating birds using radar.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS)

Our 6th season of the Migration Monitoring Program at TTPBRS got underway on April 1! A lot of discussion in the preceding weeks focused on whether or not the study area would be submerged under several inches of ice on opening day. We were pleased to find little or no snow on April 1, along with an impressive tally of 41 species on day one. Wind and rain limited our coverage to the daily census and a scant banding effort. Any thoughts that migration might be delayed in 2008 were quickly dismissed as a strong variety of migrants were noted including good numbers of Eastern Phoebes and Golden-crowned Kinglets as well as singles of Evening Grosbeak, Winter Wren and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Conditions turned cold on April 2, resulting in 15 birds banded in 3 hours of banding effort. Thirteen species were first arrivals for the spring, which included Glaucous Gull, Hermit Thrush and Rusty Blackbird. Overnight sub-zero temperatures on April 3 likely kept northbound migrants at bay as just 5 birds were banded in 4 hours of effort. During the morning our work was documented by the Toronto Star for an article appearing earlier this week. Fieldwork was limited to the daily census on April 4 due to steady showers and wet snow throughout the morning. None of this weather was helping migration as a meagre 4 birds were banded on April 5. Despite the low numbers of birds, new arrivals included Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Meadowlark and Osprey. April 6 was warm with winds from the ENE. Birding was much the same as the previous day although a Sandhill Crane flying low over the tree line was a definite highlight! Winds switched to south overnight which led to 54 birds banded on April 7. Suddenly, the TTPBRS study area was alive with the sights and sounds of spring. Fox Sparrows, Tree Swallows and White-throated Sparrows were welcome additions to the study area.

In sum, it has been an exciting start to a new season of fieldwork at TTPBRS, and it is remarkable to think that 5 years have passed already since this whole initiative began. We owe it all to the tremendous contributions of our dedicated volunteers and supporters and we look forward to another year in the study and protection of birds in Toronto!


Common Redpoll Recovered

A Common Redpoll banded at TTPBRS on November 16, 2007 was recovered at Port Rowan, ON on March 22, 2008. This was the 23rd individual and the 10th species banded at TTPBRS to be recovered elsewhere.

In The Media

TTPBRS was recently featured in the Toronto Star (April 7) and on GlobalTV (April 8) during the first week of fieldwork in 2008!

Some exciting news will be presented in the next issue of FlightNotes, the tri-annual newsletter of the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station. The issue will be distributed by late April. In the meantime, you can follow along with the spring migration at our website.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK (banding records in bold)

April 1
1-Great Blue Heron
4-American Woodcock
1-Northern Saw-whet Owl
1-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
8-Eastern Phoebe
5-Golden-crowned Kinglet
5-Horned Lark
1-Evening Grosbeak

April 2
3-American Coot
4-Brown Creeper
21-Golden-crowned Kinglet
1-Winter Wren
1-Hermit Thrush
1-Rusty Blackbird
2-Glaucous Gull

April 3
7-Wood Duck
6-Bonaparte's Gull
1-Common Redpoll
1-Lapland Longspur

April 5
1-Turkey Vulture
6-Northern Pintail
1-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
170-Red-winged Blackbird
1-Eastern Meadowlark

April 6
1-Common Loon
80-Common Merganser
1-Cooper's Hawk
5-Bonaparte's Gull
1-Sandhill Crane
1-Field Sparrow

April 7
1-Northern Harrier
5-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
3-Tree Swallow
55-Golden-crowned Kinglet
1-Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1-American Pipit
7-Fox Sparrow
1-White-throated Sparrow
9-Song Sparrow
15-Slate-colored Junco
2-Common Redpoll

Birds Banded: April 1-7

Species Recorded: April 1-7


The 2008 Field Season is Underway!

The Spring Migration Monitoring Program was launched on April 1. The weather has featured a little bit of everything, which has meant reduced net hours for the first few days of the season. The snow and ice have all but melted and we have been pleased to find a good variety of migrants. A full report on the first week will be posted by Wednesday of next week.

Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS

Embayment C is still frozen but large cracks in the ice are beginning to form along the shoreline. This bay will be full of ducks within the next week or two.

Seabrooke Leckie/TTPBRS

Song Sparrows (Melospiza Melodia) have been the most abundant early spring migrant so far. Smaller numbers of Eastern Phoebe, Rusty Blackbird, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker have also been noted.


Javier Arata learning to hold songbirds for the first time.


Helping Birds in the City

Toronto and Region Conservation is a partner with the Fatal Light Awareness Program in the Lights Out Toronto campaign. This spring, TTPBRS will be offering opportunities for FLAP volunteers to learn bird ID and safe bird handling techniques. More details are provided below. The FLAP organization does an incredible job in the rescue of migratory birds and in raising awareness of avian mortality due to collisions with urban structures. Please consider lending a helping hand to this important initiative!

2008 Spring Bird Migration Calendar

Bird Rescue Training Workshop

At this general orientation workshop, you will learn the basics of bird collisions with buildings, bird rescue
including bird handling & identification, assessment of bird injuries & rehabilitation.

Saturday, April 12, 2008
9:30 a.m. to noon
City Hall (100 Queen St. West., at Bay), Committee Room # 4
Please call or email the FLAP office to RSVP.

Black-throated Green Warbler Photo: Carol L. Edwards

Bird Handling / Identification Workshops

Date: Sunday, April 27 or Saturday, May 3, 2008
Time: 6:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
Where to meet: If you need a ride, at the northwest corner of Bay and Front (at the Royal Bank building) or,
if you are driving, at the gate to Tommy Thompson Park.
Place of workshop: Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station on the Leslie Street Spit
Bring: Clothes for outside weather, sturdy footwear, snack and drink, binoculars and bird guide (if you have them)
Contact: Lori Nichols at with the date you are interested in and all your contact information.
Please let Lori know if you are driving or will need a ride.

* * * Please sign up soon as space is limited. * * *

Description of the day:

For this workshop, participants will learn how to safely handle live, healthy birds trapped through the banding operation at
Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station on the Leslie Street Spit. It will also be a chance to hone identification skills.

We will leave from the corner of Bay and Front at 6:00 am (so be there by 6:00!) and drive to the free parking at the foot
of Leslie street. We will have a 30 minute walk to the station and stay until around 11:30. We will be outside all day,
so dress for the weather. It can be quite windy on the spit.

If you are driving and can take a few people from the meeting place to the Spit, please let me know, as there is
limited transportation provided.

The Yonge Street bus and the Bloor-Danforth bus run 24 hours.

Monday April 7, 2008 Launch of Lights Out Toronto!
For more info, visit Lights Out Toronto! at:

Saturday, May 10 International Migratory Bird Day
Event to be announced.


Spring Owl Migration

Northern Saw-whet Owls have begun their northward migration to northern forests this year. The thick pack of ice and snow at Tommy Thompson Park has made travel difficult for anyone on foot. However we soldiered out to TTPBRS late last week to do some owling and were rewarded with a particularly heavy male Northern Saw-whet (fat score of 6 on a scale of 0-7!). Barred Owl and Great Horned Owl were also encountered (but not captured) during the evening. Net checking was an adventure with the uneven and slippery terrain but it should melt away soon....

The Spring Migration Monitoring Program is less than 3 weeks away now and I suspect that I can speak for the entire TTPBRS crew in saying that the change from indoor to outdoor living will be appreciated!

Recovery Alert

One of our Northern Saw-whet Owls banded in late October, 2007 was recently found dead somewhere on the University of Toronto campus in February, 2008. This recovery is the first record of one of "our" owls overwintering in Toronto. It is also interesting that one of these owls would move to the interior of the city from the lake shore. A telemetry study of owl dispersal in Toronto would be a fascinating study.