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