Weekly Update: May 23 - 30

Male Magnolia Warbler by Brett Tryon

The rain and wind put a damper on banding this week, but we have had some productive days. We are catching more of our Boreal breeding birds, with waves of Swainson’s Thrushes, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Mourning Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers and Blackpoll warblers. Blackpolls, the renowned marathon migrants, are putting on fat at an incredible pace. Some have been weighing in over 19 grams, close to doubling their body weight with fat. Like many of our migrants, they have been sticking around for several days to gorge on insects, demonstrating the importance of TTP as a stopover habitat.

For days Cedar Waxwings have been in the area, their high-pitched whine often the only sign of their presence. I longed to catch these beautiful birds, and finally my wish came true – one male and one female! Their plush, velvety plumage is unsurpassed, such regal birds with their black masks and crown. And yes, the waxy tips on their feathers really DO look like the pictures!

There are more and more American Robin nests being found all over TTP, and we have seen the first fledglings of the year. Some of the resident breeders we are catching have brood patches – bare, vascularised skin on their bellies for incubating eggs. That means our Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees and Red-winged Blackbirds have hatchlings on the way! We recently witnessed a male Common Yellowthroat giving an impressive broken-wing display, hopping along some low branches in a frantic attempt to draw our attention away from its nest.

We have another week of banding left for spring migration, so please drop by next weekend to watch banding up close.


Banding Totals

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 4

Traill’s Flycatcher 8

Eastern Kingbird 1

Gray-cheeked Thrush 10

Swainson’s Thrush 18

American Robin 2

Cedar Waxwing 2

Gray Catbird 3

Philadelphia Vireo 1

Red-eyed Vireo 9

Yellow Warbler 10

Chestnut-sided Warbler 5

Magnolia Warbler 15

Black-throated Blue Warbler 2

Black-throated Green Warbler 2

Blackburnian Warbler 6

Blackpoll Warbler 21

Black-and-White Warbler 2

American Redstart 12

Northern Waterthrush 1

Ovenbird 2

Mourning Warbler 3

Common Yellowthroat 9

Wilson’s Warbler 15

Canada Warbler 6

Indigo Bunting 2

Song Sparrow 1

Lincoln’s Sparrow 3

White-crowned Sparrow 1

Red-winged Blackbird 5

Common Grackle 1

Baltimore Oriole 1

American Goldfinch 4


Weekly Update: May 16 - 22

Northern Parula by volunteer Juan Zuloaga

The birds just keep on coming, with new arrivals showing up every day. The White-throated Sparrows, Myrtle Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets are almost gone now. There has been a huge wave of Swainson’s Thrushes, with some Grey-cheeked Thrushes for good measure. We have ticked off most of the warblers now, and my personal favorite was a sexy male Blackburnian Warbler. Surprisingly though, one of the most exciting birds we have caught was a common, everyday Blue Jay. We see them occasionally during migration, but they rarely make it into our nets.

Volunteers are finding more and more nests of American Robins, Song Sparrows, and now a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest. It was rather amusing to watch a pair of these tiny birds dive-bombing a singing Red-winged Blackbird, which continued in spite of their oh-so-scary tactics. There has also been a pair of Northern Rough-winged Swallows hanging around the parking lot, spending the days investigating the tail pipes of various cars. It is quite possible that they have been forced to move from their previous nest location, a bank that collapsed a few days ago. Hopefully they will find somewhere new to call home.

We hope to see lots of faces at our Spring Songbird Festival, tomorrow at Tommy Thompson from 7:00 to 4:00. There will be lots of bird hikes, banding demos and fascinating talks on ornithology and conservation.


New Arrivals

Tennessee Warbler, Cliff Swallow, Black-bellied Plover, Eastern Wood Pewee, Blackpoll Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Canada Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-eyed Vireo, Mourning Warbler, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Black-billed Cuckoo, Philadelphia Vireo

Banding Totals

Eastern Wood Pewee 2

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 2

“Traill’s” Flycatcher 3

Least Flycatcher 5

Great-crested Flycatcher 1

Eastern Kingbird 3

Blue Jay 1

Red-breasted Nuthatch 1

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1

Veery 6

Gray-cheeked Thrush 7

Swainson’s Thrush 42

American Robin 2

Gray Catbird 13

Philadelphia Vireo 1

Red-eyed Vireo 1

Tennessee Warbler 2

Nashville Warbler 4

Northern Parula 2

Yellow Warbler 16

Chestnut-sided Warbler 2

Magnolia Warbler 9

Cape May Warbler 1

Black-throated Blue Warbler 3

Myrtle Warbler 19

Black-throated Green Warbler 1

Blackburnian Warbler 1

Western Palm Warbler 2

Bay-breasted Warbler 1

Blackpoll Warbler 5

Black-and-white Warbler 1

American Redstart 11

Ovenbird 1

Northern Waterthrush 2

Mourning Warbler 4

Common Yellowthroat 16

Wilson’s Warbler 5

Canada Warbler 1

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1

Field Sparrow 1

Song Sparrow 2

Swamp Sparrow 1

Lincoln’s Sparrow 5

White-throated Sparrow 2

White-crowned Sparrow 1

Red-winged Blackbird 3

Rusty Blackbird 1

Brown-headed Cowbird 3

Baltimore Oriole 4

American Goldfinch 14


Weekly Update: May 9 - 15

Baltimore Oriole by volunteer Zak Smith

Tommy Thompson is bustling with bird activity this week. With the addition of several species, the males are fiercely competing for air time. A moment doesn’t go by where we do not hear the song of a Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, or an American Redstart (just to name a few). We have also had great looks of Scarlet Tanagers and Baltimore Orioles showing off their brilliant plumage to the somewhat less enthusiastic females.

A pair of Barn Swallows have been busy building their nest, making frequent trips to the parking lot to gather mouthfuls of mud. Baltimore Orioles are also in the midst of weaving a nest in the very top of a cottonwood beside the sailing club. As usual, the House Wrens have been disrupting the neighbourhood since they moved to town. One was seen frantically tossing out nest material from the Tree Swallow’s nest box, but the swallows quickly put an end to that!

TTP has been catbird central, with 19 banded this week! Many of the White-throated Sparrows have moved on, and the ones that remain are so fat that is a wonder they can get off the ground. We are saying goodbye to the Hermit Thrushes and hello to Swainson’s. There are still a few Ruby-throated Kinglets lingering, all of them females. Many of them are on their way to the Boreal Forest, where the males will be eagerly awaiting their arrival. So many of the birds that pass through TTP are heading that way, and our migration monitoring provides a valuable snapshot of the populations of these Boreal birds, who are not so easily recorded in the desolate north.

Don’t forget that TTP is open to the public on holidays as well as weekends, so bring the family this Monday!


New Arrivals: Veery, Bay-breasted Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Chimney Swift, Peregrine Falcon, Golden-winged Warbler, Bobolink

Banding Totals

Eastern Kingbird 2

Least Flycatcher 4

House Wren 2

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 8

Hermit Thrush 5

Swainson’s Thrush 5

American Robin 4

Veery 2

Gray Catbird 19

Brown Thrasher 2

Warbling Vireo 2

Nashville Warbler 7

Northern Parula 1

Yellow Warbler 13

Chestnut-sided Warbler 1

Magnolia Warbler 2

Black-throated Blue Warbler 1

Myrtle Warbler 51

Black-throated Green Warbler 1

Western Palm Warbler 6

American Redstart 1

Bay-breasted Warbler 1

Ovenbird 4

Common Yellowthroat 6

Northern Cardinal 1

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1

Chipping Sparrow 1

Field Sparrow 1

Savannah Sparrow 1

Lincoln’s Sparrow 4

Swamp Sparrow 4

White-throated Sparrow 22

White-crowned Sparrow 7

Red-winged Blackbird 6

Baltimore Oriole 1

Brown-headed Cowbird 2

American Goldfinch 6