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