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!
SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK
1-Black-throated Blue Warbler
4-Great Crested Flycatcher
Birds Banded: April 1-June 9
Species Recorded: April 1-June 9
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)
2-Northern Rough-winged Swallow
1-Black Tern (2nd record for TTPBRS)
Individuals Banded: April 1-June 2
Species Recorded: April 1-June 2