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11/30/2011

Fall Migration Monitoring: October 26 - November 12

It was such a mild, beautiful fall this year. Bird activity really slowed down during the last few weeks, but we did have a surprise on November 3rd when we captured a Northern Shrike. It took some sneaky maneuvers to take it out of the net without being sliced!

Northern Shrike (Brett Tryon)

Banding Totals


Eastern Phoebe 1

Black-capped Chickadee 4

Brown Creeper 13

Winter Wren 1

Golden-crowned Kinglet 85

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 15

Hermit Thrush 28

American Robin 2

Northern Cardinal 13

Eastern Towhee 2

American Tree Sparrow 25

Fox Sparrow 5

Song Sparrow 1

Swamp Sparrow 2

White-throated Sparrow 7

White-crowned Sparrow 3

Dark-eyed Junco 17

Northern Shrike 2



Total 226




American Tree Sparrow (volunteer Charlotte England)

It finally started to feel like winter was on its way during the last week, with strong winds and frost on the ground. Most of the land bird activity we noted was in the form of flyovers, mainly Pine Siskins, American Pipits, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and huge flocks of blackbirds. On the last two days we didn't catch a single bird!

On the final day of Migration Monitoring we were visited by a Tundra Swan, which was spotted by a volunteer off of the North shore. We all gathered with the scope and watched in delight as it paddled in closer and closer, until it was within a couple of meters of us. It was nice to actually see the field marks that are described in the field guides, especially the distinctive yellow spot on the bill. Eventually it wandered off and then suddenly took flight, issuing a rattling call reminiscent of a Sanhill Crane.
Fall migration really "flew by" this year! Thank you to all of the dedicated volunteers who make this possible. We will be open again for on April 1 through June 9. Until then, enjoy your winter birding and happy holidays!


10/31/2011

Fall Migration Monitoring: October 12-25

Orange-crowned Warbler (left) and Tennessee Warbler (right)


BANDING TOTALS

Species Total
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 2
Brown Creeper 21
Winter Wren 38
Golen-crowned Kinglet 49
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 30
Hermit Thrush 55
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 1
Brown Thrasher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Tennessee Warbler 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Nashville Warbler 2
Myrtle Warbler 41
American Tree Sparrow 2
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 1
Fox Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 12
Swamp Sparrow 5
White-throated Sparrow 32
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 10
Total 314

10/21/2011

Exciting Recapture!

Myrtle Warbler 2290-36370

On Tuesday we caught this adult female Myrtle Warbler (the eastern race of Yellow-rumped Warbler) and it already had a band. This happens quite frequently, as we recapture birds that we have already banded during their stopover. When I began to read out the band number 2290-36370, however, I realized that it was not a band from our inventory. Myrtle Warblers take a size zero band, and all of ours start with prefix 2500. I was very excited. Since I began at TTPBRS in 2009, I have not yet encountered a bird from another station!

When I got home I went to the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) website to look up the band number. The BBL is jointly administered by the Canadian Wildlife Service and the US Geological Survey, and they keep a database of all of the birds banded in North America. It took 5 minutes for me to fill out a form, and the information was instantly available. It turns out that the bird was first banded as a hatch-year female at Pelee Island on October 6, 2009! This bird is now on her fifth migration. Wish her luck!

If you ever find a banded bird or a stray band, visit http://www.reportband.gov/ to report it. The data from these encounters is rare, and provides valuable information about migratory routes, dispersal and longevity. You will also receive a certificate with all of the information about that bird. I am looking forward to getting that piece of paper in the mail!

10/15/2011

September 29 - October 5

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Banding Totals

Species Total
Blue Jay 3
Black-capped Chickadee 1
Brown Creeper 2
Winter Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 29
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 20
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1
Swainson's Thrush 1
Hermit Thrush 16
Gray Catbird 1
Philadelphia Vireo 1
Tennessee Warbler 3
Nashville Warbler 5
Black-throated Blue Warbler 5
Myrtle Warbler 83
Black-throated Green Warbler 3
Western Palm Warbler 2
Blackpoll Warbler 2
Ovenbird 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Wilson's Warbler 1
Fox Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 2
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
Swamp Sparrow 4
White-throated Sparrow 15
White-crowned Sparrow 3
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Total 211

10/07/2011

September 22-28

Field Sparrow

Banding Totals

Species Total
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 3
Brown Creeper 3
Winter Wren 4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4
Veery 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush 5
Swainson's Thrush 9
Hermit Thrush 1
Gray Catbird 1
Tennessee Warbler 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Red-eyed Vireo 4
Nashville Warbler 4
Northern Parula 1
Magnolia Warbler 6
Black-throated Blue Warbler 2
Myrtle Warbler 16
Western Palm Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 1
American Redstart 2
Common Yellowthroat 3
Wilson's Warbler 2
Field Sparrow 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 2
Swamp Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 14
Total 100

9/29/2011

September 15-21

Wilson's Warbler


Banding Totals

Species



Total
Northern Flicker 2
Traill's Flycatcher 1
Brown Creeper 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Veery 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush 7
Swainson's Thrush 2
American Robin 1
Gray Catbird 3
Warbling Vireo 2
Philadelphia Vireo 6
Red-eyed Vireo 5
Tennessee Warbler 2
Nashville Warbler 20
Yellow Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 9
Black-throated Blue Warbler 3
Black-throated Green Warbler 5
Bay-breasted Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 9
American Redstart 3
Common Yellowthroat 2
Wilson's Warbler 7
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 1
Total 99

9/19/2011

Fall Migration Monitoring: September 8-14

American Redstart

The weather was beautiful, with a few migrants coming through. Surprisingly, we continued to catch young Gray Catbirds, with yellow gapes and covered in fluffy juvenile plumage. Belted Kingfishers have been flying back and forth along the shoreline, often carrying food - a sign that they are still feeding young. It is hard to believe that birds have continued nesting so late into the season - hopefully that is a sign of a productive summer!


Banding Totals

Species


Total
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Traill's Flycatcher 1
Veery 2
Gray-cheeked Thrush 5
Swainson's Thrush 13
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 3
Warbling Vireo 2
Philadelphia Vireo 4
Nashville Warbler 4
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 11
Black-throated Blue Warbler 2
Myrtle Warbler 1
Western Palm Warbler 2
Bay-breasted Warbler 2
Blackpoll Warbler 7
Black-and-white Warbler 1
American Redstart 11
Ovenbird 2
Common Yellowthroat 3
Wilson's Warbler 7
Song Sparrow 2
TOTAL 89

9/12/2011

Migration Monitoring: September 1-7

Blackpoll Warbler


With such hot and humid weather and hardly a bird in sight, the beginning of September did not feel like fall migration. Then on Labour Day, like clockwork, the temperature dropped and the winds blew from the North, bringing an influx of birds. We banded 26 birds that day - not a lot, but it felt busy! September 6th was similar, with 20 birds banded. The most interesting capture that day was an Eastern Red Bat, a species we haven't captured here before. Oddly enough, it was caught around noon, whereas we normally catch bats when it is still quite dark. It should also be noted that only trained personnel with rabies shots and leather gloves may handle bats!


Eastern Red Bat


New Arrivals: Bobolink, Greater Scaup, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Western Palm Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo

Species Sep-01 Sep-03 Sep-05 Sep-06 Total
Traill's Flycatcher 1 1 2
4
Eastern Wood-Pewee

2 3 5
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

1 1 2
Traill's Flycatcher


1 1
Least Flycatcher

1 1 2
Veery

1
1
Swainson's Thrush

1 2 3
Red-eyed Vireo

5
5
Nashville Warbler


2 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler
1

1
Magnolia Warbler 1 1 3
5
Black-throated Blue Warbler

1
1
Black-throated Green Warbler


1 1
Western Palm Warbler


1 1
Bay-breasted Warbler

1
1
Blackpoll Warbler

2 2 4
Black-and-White Warbler 1
1
2
American Redstart 1 3 1 1 6
Ovenbird 1


1
Northern Waterthrush

1
1
Common Yellowthroat
2 2 2 6
Wilson's Warbler

1 2 3
Canada Warbler


1 1
Total 5 8 26 20 59

9/06/2011

August 18 - 31

Chestnut-sided Warbler


The end of August was hot and humid, not exactly prompting the birds to get moving. Diversity and numbers did start to increase by the end of the month, but migration came in trickles rather than waves.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were passing through on the 30th and 31st, and several flew into the nets. We don't band hummingbirds however, as they require a special permit and a unique type of band that fits their delicate legs. Hummingbirds must be handled very delicately, and only those personnel with experience are permitted to extract them from nets.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird



Species Aug-20 Aug-21 Aug-28 Aug-29 Aug-31
Traill's Flycatcher 1 2 1 2
Least Flycatcher
1


Black-capped Chickadee

1

Veery

1 1
Swainson's Thrush


1
American Robin 1



Warbling Vireo

3
2
Red-eyed Vireo


2
Orange-crowned Warbler


1
Yellow Warbler



1
Chestnut-sided Warbler


2
Magnolia Warbler

1 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler


2 1
Myrtle Warbler



1
Bay-breasted Warbler



1
Blackpoll Warbler



1
American Redstart


1 5
Ovenbird

1 1
Northern Waterthrush


1
Mourning Warbler

2

Wilson's Warbler


1 1
Canada Warbler 2
1 1
Indigo Bunting


1
Song Sparrow 1 1
1 1
Baltimore Oriole

1

American Goldfinch

1

Total 5 4 13 19 14

8/21/2011

Fall Migration Monitoring: August 13 - 17

Canada Warbler taken by Brett Tryon


The weather was beautiful this week, and we were actually able to run the station for five consecutive days without being rained out. We had a little wave of migrants, including Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Canada Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Redstart and Ovenbird. We continued to catch fluffy, juvenile Gray Catbirds, or "kitten birds" as I like to call them. We have been lucky to band 6 Canada Warblers, all hatch-year females.

Although there has been some activity, many of the birds have been staying up in the tops of the trees, therefore our total for the week was a mere 87 birds banded. This is usual for August though, and we look forward to the weeks to come!


Species Total
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Traill's Flycatcher 8
Eastern Kingbird 4
Black-capped Chickadee 4
Gray Catbird 6
Cedar Waxwing 1
European Starling 7
Warbling Vireo 5
Yellow Warbler 5
Myrtle Warbler 2
Ovenbird 3
Chestnut-sided Warbler 8
Northern Waterthrush 6
American Redstart 8
Canada Warbler 6
Song Sparrow 6
Baltimore Oriole 5
Myrtle Warbler 1
Common Grackle 1
Total 87


8/14/2011

Spring Migration Monitoring: Week 1


Orchard Oriole


Migration monitoring got off to a great start this year, with 58 birds banded on the first day. 22 of those were Baltimore Orioles. We banded a lot of hatch-year birds, a good indication that this breeding season was a success. Most of the birds were local breeders, with only one true migrant: a hatch-year male Myrtle Warbler, still molting all of its feathers. The highlight was a hatch-year female Orchard Oriole, the first one banded at TTPBRS!


Cedar Waxwing


Numbers steadily decreased as the week went on, with many of our local birds moving on and only a trickle of new birds coming through. Large flocks of Cedar Waxwings and European Starlings account for most of the activity.


Banding Totals


Downy Woodpecker 1
Traill's Flycatcher 9
Eastern Kingbird 4
Black-capped Chickadee 1
American Robin 6
Gray Catbird 14
Cedar Waxwing 16
European Starling 15
Warbling Vireo 11
Yellow Warbler 26
Myrtle Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 2
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Baltimore Oriole 25
American Goldfinch 1
Orchard Oriole 1
Total 135

6/05/2011

Migration Monitoring: May 24 - 30

Common Nighthawk by volunteer Lisa Chou

With all the rain we have been getting, the study area is turning into a swamp. It has been so flooded that there have actually been carp swimming in the net lanes! If it gets any higher we will need hip waders to check nets!

The flooding has created ideal conditions for species we don't normally observe. One of the volunteers had a Green Heron land in the water beside him while he was doing census.
The first Black-billed Cuckoo showed up on May 24 and they have been seen regularly in the study area throughout the week. The same day we had our first and only flock of Whimbrel fly over, something we don't often get to see.

On three occasions we have seen Common Nighthawks roosting, which we have never seen here before. One day before dawn we spotted one circling around the parking lot and watched it swoop lower and lower, passing through the trees as it searched for a place to settle in for the day. Eventually it landed on a tree right beside us, out in the open. It stayed there all day, clinging precariously as the branch swayed violently in the wind. We made sure not to disturb it and were able to get some great photos through the scope.

There has been a family of American Woodcock hanging around in the early hours. That explains why the pair that we saw daily in April seemed to disappear all of a sudden - they have obviously been busy!


New Arrivals:

Whimbrel
Black-billed Cuckoo
Alder Flycatcher
Green Heron

Banding Totals: May 24-30


Species Total
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 7
"Traill's" Flycatcher 15
Least Flycatcher 1
Great-crested Flycatcher 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Gray-cheeked Thrush 6
Swainson's Thrush 12
Gray Catbird 3
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Warbling Vireo 6
Philadelphia Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 7
Nashville Warbler 1
Northern Parula 1
Yellow Warbler 17
Chestnut-sided Warbler 7
Magnolia Warbler 23
Black-throated Blue Warbler 6
Black-throated Green Warbler 6
Blackburnian Warbler 4
Bay-breasted Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 11
Black-and-white Warbler 1
American Redstart 4
Northern Waterthrush 3
Mourning Warbler 3
Common Yellowthroat 6
Wilson's Warbler 5
Canada Warbler 3
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 4
Common Grackle 8
Red-winged Blackbird 8
American Goldfinch 5
TOTAL 190

5/29/2011

Migration Monitoring: May 17 - 23

Hooded Warbler


New Arrivals


Common Nighthawk
Canada Warbler
Bobolink
Orchard Oriole
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Hooded Warbler
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Common Nighthawk

Species Total

Northern Flicker
1
Eastern Wood Pewee 1
"Traill's" Flycatcher 3
Least Flycatcher 4
Great-crested Flycatcher 2
Swainson's Thrush 11
Hermit Thrush 1
Wood Thrush 1
House Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Veery 2
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1
American Robin 4
Gray Catbird 11
Brown Thrasher 1
Blue-headed Vireo 2
Warbling Vireo 4
Philadelphia Vireo 1
Tennessee Warbler 1
Nashville Warbler 15
Northern Parula 1
Yellow Warbler 15
Chestnut-sided Warbler 8
Magnolia Warbler 18
Black-throated Blue Warbler 6
Myrtle Warbler 9
Black-throated Green Warbler 4
Western Palm Warbler 1
Bay-breasted Warbler 2
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 2
American Redstart 6
Ovenbird 1
Northern Waterthrush 3
Mourning Warbler 3
Common Yellowthroat 6
Wilson's Warbler 6
Canada Warbler 4
Hooded Warbler 1
Scarlet Tanager 1
Song Sparrow 2
Lincoln's Sparrow 8
Swamp Sparrow 7
White-throated Sparrow 8
White-crowned Sparrow 8
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Common Grackle 4
Baltimore Oriole 9
American Goldfinch 6
Total 231


Recapture Highlights

Eastern Kingbird 2261-68361: banded May 17, 2009
Least Flycatcher 2530-23014: banded May 29, 2010
Gray Catbird 1841-88949: banded August 10, 2007
Gray Catbird 1841-89471: banded August 19, 2010
Warbling Vireo 2400-04746: banded May 11, 2010
Warbling Vireo 2400-04323: banded May 10, 2009
Warbling Vireo 2400-04827: banded August 11, 2010
Yellow Warbler 2430-36981: banded May 12, 2008
Yellow Warbler 2400-04027: banded May 18, 2008
Yellow Warbler 2400-04267: banded May 8, 2009
Yellow Warbler 2400-04426: banded May 21, 2009
Yellow Warbler 2400-04592: banded August 20, 2009
Yellow Warbler 2530-21203: banded May 10, 2010
Yellow Warbler 2530-21215: banded May 11, 2010
Yellow Warbler 2530-21349: banded May 18, 2010
Red-winged Blackbird 1841-89348: banded April 23, 2010
Red-winged Blackbird 1212-61510: banded May 29, 2010
American Goldfinch 2430-32672: banded May 6, 2006

5/18/2011

Migration Monitoring: May 8 - 14

Rose-breasted Grosbeak taken by Brett Tryon

We finally got a full week of banding in without being rained out! At least 5 pairs of Tree Swallows have taken up residence in the various cavities and nest boxes on the peninsula. The Gray Catbirds and Brown Thrashers have been singing up a storm, and large groups of Eastern Kingbirds have been battling over territories. Nests are clearly underway for the American Robins, Song Sparrows and Black-capped Chickadees, which have become conspicuously quiet. The Red-winged Blackbirds continue to make a raucous though, and females have been seen building nests.

Earlier this week one of the volunteers spotted a Peregrine Falcon chasing a Belted Kingfisher. Seconds later I saw the falcon, only it was being chase by two Eastern Kingbirds!

On Saturday, May 14 a heavy fog caused a fallout, the poor visibility causing all the migrating birds to come down once they crossed Lake Ontario. Since Tommy Thompson Park juts out 5 km into the lake, it is the first land that birds see if they are flying over the lake. That meant tons of birds for us! Various people described the park as "dripping" with birds. Luckily the forecasted rain held off for our Spring Bird Festival, and lots of people got to see birds in the hand and learn about the important work we are doing to contribute to population monitoring and conservation. Several children watched the banding and were positively quivering with excitement when they saw tiny songbirds in the hand. Such experiences are crucial early in life if our children are to grow up with a compassion for our fellow creatures and the environment we share.

Bay-breasted Warbler taken by Brett Tryon


With the diversity increasing, it is finally starting to feel like May. Many new species have arrived:

Flycatchers
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee

Thrushes
Veery

Vireos
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

Warblers
Ovenbird
Common Yellowthroat
Blue-winged Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Northern Parula
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler

Sparrows
Lincoln's Sparrow

Other
Scarlet Tanager
Ruby-throated Hummingbird


Lincoln's Sparrow taken by Brett Tryon


Banding Totals: May 8 - 14

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Least Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
Veery 3
Hermit Thrush 1
Wood Thrush 1
American Robin 3
Gray Catbird 7
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Nashville Warbler 9
Yellow Warbler 6
Magnolia Warbler 4
Black-throated Blue Warbler 2
Myrtle Warbler 29
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Western Palm Warbler 2
Black-and-white Warbler 1
American Robin 1
Ovenbird 3
Mourning Warbler 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 3
Swamp Sparrow 5
White-throated Sparrow 21
White-crowned Sparrow 7
Red-winged Blackbird 11
Common Grackle 2
American Goldfinch 1
Total 142


Recapture Highlights

Last week we recaptured quite a few birds that were banded in previous years. It is encouraging that these birds migrate thousands of kilometers every year and return to the exact same spot each spring to breed. It goes to show the importance of Tommy Thompson Park and other urban greenspace as habitat for songbirds. It also demonstrates that banding does not adversly affect the migration, productivity and survivorship of songbirds.

Downy Woodpecker 2261-68981 banded on May 18, 2010 as a second-year female
Eastern Kingbird 2251-54062 banded on May 28, 2006 as a second-year male. That means he is now in his 8th year!
Warbling Vireo 2400-04195 banded on August 22, 2008 as a hatch-year bird
Yellow Warbler 2400-04339 banded on May 13, 2009 as an after-second-year female
Yellow Warbler 2530-21215 banded on May 11, 2010 as a second-year male
Yellow Warbler 2530-21332 banded on May 18, 2010 as a second-year female
Yellow Warbler 2400-04592 banded on August 20, 2009 as a hatch-year male
Brown-headed Cowbird 1841-89338 banded on April 13, 2010 as a after hatch-year female. Every time this bird has been captured she has hopped down to the ground in front of the lab and preened, completely indifferent to our presence. Last time she actually "took a walk" down the trail. Clearly she can fly since she has been through 2 migrations since she was banded - perhaps she was just enjoying some temporary freedom from the constant harassment of her males suitors !

Brown-headed Cowbird 1841-89338 taken in 2010 by volunteer Mark Field

5/07/2011

Spring Migration Monitoring: May 1 - 7

Western Palm Warbler

The trees are finally leafing out now, and we are starting to see the insectivore diversity increase. A pair of Tree Swallows has taken up residence in the nest box behind the lab and the female has been busy gathering nest material while the male sits on guard atop the weather pole.
We were rained out on Monday and Tuesday, and rain forced early closure on Friday as well. It sure has been a wet spring, and hopefully all the standing water will mean more insects for the birds to eat!

New Arrivals:

Northern Pintail
Savannah Sparrow
Gray Catbird
White-crowned Sparrow
Warbling Vireo
Cape May Warbler
Baltimore Oriole
Black-throated Green Warbler
Chimney Swift
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Eastern Kingbird
American Pipit
Nashville Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler


Banding Totals

Downy Woodpecker 1
Least Flycatcher 2
Great Flycatcher 2
Tree Swallow 4
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
House Wren 1
Winter Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 11
Hermit Thrush 6
American Robin 3
Nashville Warbler 2
Cape May Warbler 1
Myrtle Warbler 53
Western Palm Warbler 13
Black-throated Green Warbler 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3
Song Sparrow 2
Swamp Sparrow 4
White-throated Sparrow 21
White-crowned Sparrow 5
Red-winged Blackbird 18
Common Grackle 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 3
Purple Finch 1
American Goldfinch 2
Total 163

4/30/2011

Spring Migration Monitoring: April 30



Yellow-breasted Chat by Brett Tryon

Finally it is feeling like spring! Today was the first day for weeks that we didn't have to contend with rain, snow, fog or wind. It was calm, sunny and bustling with birds. The first Purple Martins of the season were seen, and the breeding birds were busily defending territories and competing for mates. It was as if the Red-Wing Blackbird championship was underway, the males taking turns battling it out in mid-air, their feet locking and causing them to fall in a flapping fury to the ground.

We had a steady stream of birds, the majority of them Yellow-rumped Warblers. There were some Western Palm Warblers as well, and the first Yellow Warbler of the season. I tend to forget how incredibly brilliant they are, until I have that first spring male in the hand. One of the volunteers aplty called him a little drop of sunshine.

Yellow Warbler by Brett Tryon

The most exciting capture of the day however, was a Yellow-breasted Chat. It was only our second time banding a chat, the first record in 2007. Someone reported seeing one at the base of the spit in the "wet woods" yesterday, so it was amazing that it made it up to peninsula D and ended up in one of our nets. We likely would not have seen it otherwise, since they are such secretive birds and we were too busy with banding to go bird the study area. This highlights one of the values of banding, as it can often reveal species which are otherwise not observed.



4/24/2011

Spring Migration Monitoring: April 12 - 19



Ruby-crowned Kinglet by Brett Tryon


The cold, wet, windy weather has continued to keep the migrants in waiting - and us as well! Between the lack of bird activity and net closures due to weather, we only managed to band 70 birds all week.

The cold, wet, windy weather has not only stalled migration but nesting as well. Usually by this time the Red-winged Blackbird nests are well underway, but by the 19th the females were just starting to arrive.

The first butterflies made an appearance on April 14, with some Mourning Cloaks and Spring Azures flitting around. It felt like spring MUST be here, but the cold and rain has since driven them away.

Although it has been slow, there are always discoveries to be made. On We recaptured a Brown Thrasher that was originally banded in April 2007 as a after hatch-year, making it over 5 years old! Because the males and females of this species are identical, normally we cannot determine their sex. When it was recaptured in 2009 however, it had a brood patch - a bare belly which birds develop during the breeding season in order to transfer heat onto eggs. In Brown Thrashers (and most bird species) only females incubate the eggs, therefore the presence of a brood patch signifies a female. Since she was recaptured in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011, it is likely that she will be busy building a nest here some time soon!


Brown Thrasher by Brett Tryon


The Caspian Terns were the first terns to show up, with the Common Terns arriving on On April 15. On April 19 volunteer Ian Sturdee was doing census when he saw 2 terns flying high, and although they were too far to see distinguising details, he instantly recognized their calls and was able to identify them as Forster's Terns. There is a brief window in the spring when Forster's Terns might be seen migrating through Toronto, the earliest record at TTPBRS being April 18 and the latest on May 7. This is a great example of how valuable birding by ear can be.
On April 18 a beautiful male Purple Finch was singing over the station. We do see Purple Finches from time to time, however a singing male is a rare sight here.

Season Species: 85

New Species: Forster's Tern, Purple Finch, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Common Tern, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Swamp Sparrow, Bonaparte's Gull, Ruby-crowned Kinglet



4/11/2011

Spring Migration Monitoring: April 9-11

Hermit Thrush by Brett Tryon

Lots of birds showed up over the last couple of days. Saturday was gorgeous, then Sunday and Monday brought rain and wind that forced us to shut down nets early. We did manage to get some banding in though, and the totals have been steadily increasing each day.

April 9

Birds Banded

Eastern Phoebe: 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet: 2
Hermit Thrush: 1
American Tree Sparrow: 1
Song Sparrow: 4

Recaptures

Eastern Phoebe: 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet: 2

Song Sparrow by Brett Tryon

April 10

Birds Banded

Downy Woodpecker: 1
Eastern Phoebe: 1
Brown Creeper: 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet: 13
American Robin: 1
American Tree Sparrow: 4
Fox Sparrow: 1
Song Sparrow: 2
Dark-eyed Junco: 3

Recaptures

Black-capped Chickadee: 1

New Species:

Chipping Sparrow
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

Field Sparrow by Brett Tryon

April 11

Birds Banded

Eastern Phoebe: 2
Brown Creeper: 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet: 11
Hermit Thrush: 2
American Robin: 1
American Tree Sparrow: 2
Field Sparrow: 2
Fox Sparrow: 2
Song Sparrow: 7
Dark-eyed Junco: 13

New Species

Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Great Egret
Myrtle Warbler
Northern Shoveler
Blue-winged Teal

4/08/2011

Spring Migration Monitoring: April 6 & 7

Golden-crowned Kinglet by Brett Tryon


April 6

Thankfully the weather forecast was wrong on Wednesday (no big surprise) and instead of strong winds and rain, we had a nice morning with some new migrants on our doorstep. Several new species were recorded:

Caspian Tern
Belted Kingfisher
Hermit Thrush
Pied-billed Grebe
Northern Cardinal
Lesser Scaup

Our banding total was our highest to date, with 18 birds banded:

Eastern Phoebe: 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet: 8
American Robin: 2
American Tree Sparrow: 4
Song Sparrow: 2
Dark-eyed Junco: 1

Recaptures:

Black-capped Chickadee: 1
Song Sparrow: 1


April 7

Thursday was very foggy and although you would expect more birds to fly in the nets because of reduced visibility, we had a very slow day. It wasn't even possible to look at ducks on the lake until later in the morning when the fog cleared.

The highlight of the day was when I was taking a Song Sparrow out of the net. It was chipping noisily and suddenly some curious birds showed up. Something scurried past me along the ground, and by the way it was moving it seemed more like a rodent than a bird. Then it hopped up on a branch and I realized that it was another Song Sparrow, puffed up and doing a broken wing display! It was clearly trying to convince me that it was an easy meal in order to lure me away from its friend. This is something that we know parent birds do to defend their offspring, but not something you would expect from a bird that is not even nesting yet.

Birds Banded:

Brown Creeper: 1
American Robin: 2
Song Sparrow: 1

Birds Recaptured:

Golden-crowned Kinglet: 1
Black-capped Chickadee: 1

4/05/2011

Spring Migration Monitoring: April 5

Eastern Phoebe by Brett Tryon

The ice has finally melted and the migrants are starting to arrive. With the arrival of our Golden-crowned Kinglets, it is starting to feel like spring!

Although banding was called off on Monday due to the rain and thunderstorms, volunteer Don Johnston was able to do the census. The rain miraculously stopped just as it was time to begin, and started up again soon after he was done! He noted 2 new species for the season: Eastern Phoebe and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Despite the bitter wind, today was productive. When we arrived this morning there were at least 4 American Woodcocks in the study area, which we could pinpoint by listening to their frog-like “peent” calls. It was too dark to see them at first, but by the time we started opening nets I was able to spot one up in the air doing its display, zig-zagging across the sky until finally fluttering back down to the ground like a falling leaf. One woodcock almost landed on a volunteer’s head!

There are still lots of ducks to observe, including Redhead, American Widgeon, White-winged Scoter, Common and Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup and Long-tailed Duck and Gadwall.

The census yielded 25 species, amazing considering the howling wind seriously hinders one’s ability to hear birds. We had several new arrivals today:

Tree Swallow

Black-crowned Night Heron

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Peregrine Falcon

Coopers Hawk

Winter Wren

We had to shut most of the nets by the second net check because the wind was too strong, but were able to keep a few open for the whole day. We did end up banding 2 Eastern Phoebes and 1 Song Sparrow, all second-year birds. The volunteers had a chance to learn how to see the difference between adult and juvenal feathers, an important characteristic to use in ageing birds.