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.