5/18/2011

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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