August 18th – Expect The Unexpected

At my post on the CCGS Teleost.

At my post on the CCGS Teleost.


I have just finished spending 49 days of my Summer at sea – in the North Atlantic, ranging from southwest Nova Scotia to the east coast of Labrador and anywhere from a few miles to 470 miles offshore. My job? Count seabirds (well, any birds actually) following a stringent protocol so that not only the presence or absence of various species can be determined but also so that the density of particular species – i.e., the number of birds per square kilometer – can be assessed. These numbers produce the data required to give reasoned responses to questions of declines/increases in bird numbers as well as indicators of areas that are important to particular species (and might require being set aside as reserves). Also, when coupled with fish and oceanographic data (the main reason for the research vessels being on the water in the first place), the dynamics of seabird ecology in Canadian waters can be more carefully sorted out.

Counting seabirds at sea requires that you stand on one side of the bridge of a seagoing vessel (in my case, Canadian Coast Guard/DFO research ships) and simply watch the waters ahead and to the side – for me, the port side. When a bird is seen, it is identified (at least to genus, preferably to species – not always easy for birds like storm-petrels as they flit amongst the waves half a mile away), its proximity to the ship determined, and note is made of whether it is flying or sitting on the water. There are some other pieces of information that one might also record: what the bird is “associated” with (feeding dolphins, a piece of floating wood, etc.); elements of behaviour (feeding style, whether it flies or dives to escape the ship, etc.); age; aspects of plumage (dark/light morph, moulting, etc.).

As well as birds, I record whale/dolphin sightings, some fish species, turtles, jellyfish, and…….garbage.

Sometimes, you can get really busy like when a pod of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins hits upon a school of bait fish. Then all hell breaks loose and birds from everywhere head to the scrum to grab what they can. But most of the time the ocean is largely empty and you can go for good periods of time without seeing anything. But the important thing is that you are always watching from sun up till sun down and, in doing so, you never know what you might see. Here’s a smattering of examples taken from all 3 outings from early June to mid-August:
• Giant sunfish, Mola Molas, were occasionally seen lying flat on the surface or, rarely, with a dorsal fin flapping about above the surface.
• Close to the Gulf Stream I saw loads of Cory’s Shearwaters and a group of >30 Manx Shearwaters mixed in with them sitting on the water (I usually saw Manx Shearwaters as single birds…when I saw them at all).

A poor picture of Cory's Shearwaters taking off.

A poor picture of Cory’s Shearwaters taking off.


• Also close to the Stream, on one day there were hundreds of Portuguese Men-of War. In the sun they looked like plastic water bottles bobbing on the surface.
• 70 miles off the coast a juvenile Barn Swallow flew around the ship. Ten miles from Sable Island we picked up a Red-breasted Nuthatch and well outside St. John’s harbour we carried a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.
• Skuas and jaegers are always of interest….and not often seen. I occasionally saw both Great and South Polar Skuas as well Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaegers (these last ones usually in the proximity of Arctic Terns).
• From my notes on a very stormy day: “Trying to make the discrimination between Leach’s Storm-petrels and Wilson’s Storm-petrels in 30-knot winds and 4-meter seas is like trying to identify ‘confusing Fall warblers’ while riding a bucking horse that keeps plunging into waterfalls.”
• 2 Whimbrel passed the ship well offshore – headed for northern Newfoundland.
• The deep trawls of fishing expeditions always produced interesting finds:
Not very big, but very scary-looking: Boa Dragonfish.

Not very big, but very scary-looking: Boa Dragonfish.


How would you like to roll over and see this lying next to you.......?

How would you like to roll over and see this lying next to you…….?


Tinselfish

Tinselfish


A very large squid from 400 meters down.

A very large squid from 400 meters down.

• Leaving St. Anthony (far northern Newfoundland) I watched a pod of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins feeding right beside the ship in the calm water at dusk – a beautiful night! Suddenly they were up and speeding away from the ship at great speed. In no time they were half a mile ahead of the ship and still going for all they were worth. Five minutes later, the cause of their panic became obvious – a pod of 7 Orcas moved into the area they had just left….and seemed to content to feed on whatever was there; they never gave chase.

• Atlantic White-sided Dolphins are quite common offshore in these waters. They are called “jumpers” by the deck hands because of their habit of jumping completely out of the water, sometimes multiple times in a row. On one occasion, in calm seas, well ahead of me, I saw a profusion of whitecaps. At first I thought it was an aberrant upwelling or the breeze blowing against a tidal flow but when I focused my binoculars I saw a line of dolphins 400 meters wide streaming at top speed toward the ship. There were easily over 150 of them. A few stayed to play for awhile, riding the bow wave, but most just kept going by.
• A few times, usually on foggy days, we had gulls land on the bow of the ship, catching a ride. On one occasion there was a Lesser Black-backed Gull and on another a “mystery” gull (suggestions as to ID would be welcome):

"Mystery Gull" on the left catching a ride on the bow. Any ideas as to what it is?

“Mystery Gull” on the left catching a ride on the bow. Any ideas as to what it is?

• Twice Humpback Whales put on a show. In the first instance two very large animals (males?) would take turns raising their tails and lower half of their bodies vertically out of the water before smashing it down on the surface producing a huge splash. Then the other would do the same….back and forth. Was this some sort of mating display or ritual? On another occasion a mother and calf took turns breaching completely out of the water, back and forth for over 10 minutes. Was their some practical reason for this or was it just a happy dance to start the day?
• I had never seen a Swordfish before so I was gob-smacked when one jumped completely out of the water only 150 meters directly in front of me. I hadn’t been seeing anything throughout the evening and then, whammo!, there it was. Deep iridescent blue on the back, brilliant white underneath, its sword slashing back and forth in the air – amazing! If I hadn’t been there watching, it would have passed completely unnoticed.

But the cruises are over and I’m a landlubber again. Time to get the nets up and ready for the coming Fall banding season at Ruthven. We will run from September 1st to November 7th. You’re always welcome…….

July 30th, 2016 – Off the Strait of Belle Isle

(Late Entry)
The Strait of Belle Isle is the channel that separates the northern tip of Newfoundland from the southern end of Labrador. It is a magical place, rich in plankton which draws fish, seabirds and whales in large numbers. I just finished a 3-week stint of counting seabirds from a Coast Guard research vessel off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and I spent a couple of days in the area. It’s a great place to see Sooty Shearwaters; I’ve seen hundreds in the Strait itself. Great Shearwaters are also common but even more so a little further out to sea.

But this richness pales in light of descriptions made in earlier times. In the early 1900’s, Arthur Cleveland Bent published a series of books detailing the life histories of all North American birds – the Birds of North America is a more modern version of his pioneering initiative. He did most of the writing but, on occasion, had other experts pen the histories of particular species. I love the “old” writings: so much more descriptive (not the cold, formal detailing of modern scientific writing) and with a wide vocabulary.

CW Townsend did the write-up on the Greater Shearwater. “To the bird student who rarely ventures from the beaches or sheltered bays out onto the unprotected ocean a glimpse of a shearwater – the hag, or hagdon, or hagdown of sailors – is most unusual…..Graceful birds they are and well do they deserve their name, for on nimble wing they are ever on the alert to cut or shear the water in their search for food.”

I was particularly struck by this description:
“The largest number I ever saw was on a July day on the Labrador coast between Battle and Spear Harbors. The wind was strong on shore, bringing in wisps and clouds of fog from the numerous icebergs which beset the coast. At first our steamer disturbed from the water groups of fifty to a hundred shearwaters, but, as we pushed north, larger and larger flocks arose and flew outside until we had seen at least ten thousand (italics mine) of these splendid birds. The great flock extended for several miles along the rugged coast and with the exception of three sooty shearwaters all were the greater species.”

Battle Harbour is just north up the Labrador coast from the Strait of Belle Isle. I steamed through the general area 3 times on this trip. I saw very few Great Shearwaters. There were some around but nothing even approaching these numbers – mostly single birds coursing back and forth across the swell looking for a meal.

Further south I had seen Great Shearwaters in groups, especially when we ran 450 nautical miles East along the 47th parallel over the Flemish Cap and then north to a transect that would take us southwest into Bonavista Bay. I saw isolated groups of 30-50 birds on the water and once, when the ship was stopped to take water samples, a group of about 125 gathered around the ship (mistaking us for a fishing vessel). But at no time over the 3 weeks I was out did I ever see Great Shearwaters in the numbers described above. (And, interestingly, in the Strait of Belle Isle area the most common shearwater was the Sooty.)

Great (and Sooty) Shearwaters nest on islands in the far southern Atlantic. After nesting they head north to spend “the Winter” in the nutrient-rich waters of the north Atlantic. Traditionally they seek out schools of small fish (like capelin) and squid to sustain them and, especially, to fuel their moult. They arrive in eastern Canadian waters by May and usually have left by sometime in October. They range well up the Labrador coast and I have seen them as far north as the SE end of Baffin Island.

So, did I just miss them or are they not there anymore? I suspect the latter. Recent reports, including The State of the World’s Birds, suggest that, worldwide, seabird numbers have declined by 70% since the 1950’s. While I find these kinds of numbers suspect (because I don’t know what they’re based on – who was systematically counting in the 1950’s?), I don’t doubt that there has been a serious drop. Why? Well I guess you can run through the usual litany of suspects: overfishing of prey species, by-catch in the fishing industry (i.e., hooked on long-lines and drowned), chemical pollution, predators finding their way into their breeding areas (e.g, cats and rats brought by fishing/whaling vessels), changes in oceanic current flows and water temperatures due to global warming, ingestion of pieces of plastic floating in the oceans (and I saw some even though we were fairly far north). More likely it isn’t one of these causes but the cumulative effect of them all working together insidiously. What a shame. A single Great Shearwater playing in a 30-knot wind over the waves or riding the updraft of a long swell is a thing of beauty and awe. I can’t begin to imagine what ten thousand of them would be like.

Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater and Sooty Shearwater

Great Shearwater and Sooty Shearwater

Great Shearwater running on the surface to get enough speed for liftoff - they need to do this in calm conditions.

Great Shearwater running on the surface to get enough speed for liftoff – they need to do this in calm conditions.

June 22nd – Bits and Pieces

Yellow Warbler "family" - male, female, and juvenile (l. to r.); all caught at the same time in the same net within 2 meters of each other.   -K. Paveley

Yellow Warbler “family” – male, female, and juvenile (l. to r.); all caught at the same time in the same net within 2 meters of each other. -K. Paveley


Summer is here! And now the days get slowly shorter. By the time the Fall banding season rolls around I will be able to sleep into 5:30 rather than get up at 4:00 as I was doing just a couple of weeks ago. The birds have not been idle: arrive, breed, nest, raise and fledge young; outta here, back down South. Many birds are well along in this timetable – most at least have eggs although many are raising (or have raised) young.
Adult Chipping Sparrow.   -K. Paveley

Adult Chipping Sparrow. -K. Paveley


Juvenile Chipping Sparrow.    -K. Paveley

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow. -K. Paveley


At Ruthven, robins, bluebirds, grackles and phoebes, which arrive early, are into their second broods. Nestlings of long-distance migrants are hatching all over the place and parents are busy carrying food to try and quench voracious appetites. You just have to spend a few minutes sitting and watching and you will see the parent birds hard at work. Give it a try.
SY female Yellow Warbler.   -K. Paveley

SY female Yellow Warbler. -K. Paveley


Juvenile Chipping Sparrow.  -K. Paveley

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow. -K. Paveley


And it’s the same all over. I was at Fern Hill School in Burlington yesterday to help take down nets and we caught a young Chipping Sparrow and a “family” of Yellow Warblers: male, female, and (very young) juvenile. In another month, when the young have completely fledged and the adults have gone through a complete moult, Yellow Warblers will be on their way South to be quickly followed by an outpouring of species from the boreal forest further north.
Male Snow Bunting in breeding plumage photographed last weekend in Nova Scotia.

Male Snow Bunting in breeding plumage photographed last weekend in Nova Scotia.


At this time, in the Arctic, Snow Buntings should be well into their breeding/nesting cycle but for some strange reason an adult male in Nova Scotia is still hanging around……
Bright ASY plumage of this male Snow Bunting in Nova Scotia.

Bright ASY plumage of this male Snow Bunting in Nova Scotia.


[Note: the SNBU pics were sent to me by collaborator Jeff MacLeod; I don’t know the actual photographer.]
Rick

May 31st – Fizzling Out

Bright male Indigo Bunting surveying his territory.  -P. Thoem

Bright male Indigo Bunting surveying his territory. -P. Thoem


The 2016 Spring migration monitoring season at Ruthven went out with sort of a fizzle. But we had fun helping it out. We banded the few birds we caught; took down the nets; and enjoyed an impromptu lunch provided by the Sisters of Mercy – Elaine Serena’s Larks group.

Although it was a bit of a slog, we had a very successful season banding 1,976 birds – our 3rd highest total going back to the beginning: 1996. We banded 85 species and encountered 153 species overall.

The Top 5:
1/ 362 American Goldfinches
2/ 155 Brown-headed Cowbirds (record)
3/ 151 White-throated Sparrows (record)
4/ 142 Yellow Warblers (record)
5/ 97 Gray Catbirds

Rick

Fern Hill – Oakville:

The Oakville campus's core group of young ornithologists.    -K. Paveley

The Oakville campus’s core group of young ornithologists. -K. Paveley


The last day of Spring Migration was quite slow in terms of the number of birds we banded but it was a beautiful day to be outside birding. The students at Fern Hill Oakville spent the last day monitoring ground traps and nest boxes. We have a wonderful group of Young Ornithologists who have been monitoring the boxes regularly. In fact, just yesterday they recorded observing eggs in one box, today when we checked them together we found one day old tree swallows!
At lunch time we met up again and banded two female tree swallows in the boxes. It was great for me to sit back and watch them work so well together.
Hmmmm...what do we have here?     -K. Paveley

Hmmmm…what do we have here? -K. Paveley


Another nest of Tree Swallows underway.   -K. Paveley

Another nest of Tree Swallows underway. -K. Paveley

Banded:
2 Tree Swallows

ET 17 species.
Katherine

May 29th & 30th – Slow Goin’

Ruthven seems to be a favourite nesting area for Blue-winged Warblers.   -G. MacLellan

Ruthven seems to be a favourite nesting area for Blue-winged Warblers. -G. MacLellan


The migrants have almost all gone through. It’s just residents now and these have become quiet and much less noticeable as nests have been made and females are sitting on eggs – all the females we’ve caught are sporting brood patches. Just 10 days ago we were counting 20+ Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks every morning. Now that count is much reduced…but it’s not that they’re not around, they’re just quiet and more furtive.
One of my favourite "Summer birds" - Easter Wood Pewee.    -A. Wilcox

One of my favourite “Summer birds” – Easter Wood Pewee. -A. Wilcox


Some of the residents now are long-distance migrants that make Ruthven their Summer “home”. The retraps are interesting in this regard: a Yellow Warbler that is 6 years old; a Red-eyed Vireo that is at least 4 years old; and an Eastern Wood Pewee that is at least 6 years old.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak - these birds are much less noticeable than they were 10 days ago.   -G. MacLellan

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak – these birds are much less noticeable than they were 10 days ago. -G. MacLellan


May 19th; Banded 15:
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Traill’s Flycatcher
2 Gray Catbirds
2 Cedar Waxwings
1 Blue-winged Warbler
2 Yellow Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Song Sparrow
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 Red-winged Blackbird

ET’s: 51 spp.

May 30th; Banded 9:
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
2 Gray Catbirds
2 Yellow Warblers
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
1 Baltimore Oriole

ET’s: 60 spp.
Ruthven Photo Gallery:

Dead trees serve as perches for Turkey Vultures.   -G. MacLellan

Dead trees serve as perches for Turkey Vultures. -G. MacLellan


An older female Red-winged Blackbird.   -A. Wilcox

An older female Red-winged Blackbird. -A. Wilcox


Female House Finch.   -G. MacLellan

Female House Finch. -G. MacLellan


Cabbage White Butterfly.    -G. MacLellan

Cabbage White Butterfly. -G. MacLellan


Eight-spotted Forester.    -G. MacLellan

Eight-spotted Forester. -G. MacLellan


Bumblebee - getting to be ever more rare.    -G. MacLellan

Bumblebee – getting to be ever more rare. -G. MacLellan


Rick

Fern Holl – Burlington:

Bill Read showing the students how to monitor nest boxes.  -K. Paveley

Bill Read showing the students how to monitor nest boxes. -K. Paveley


It was a hot and sticky day at Fern Hill, but our nets were open and we had a nice number of birds. Child Ventures’ JK and SK classes joined us for the morning to watch a banding demonstration. I was so proud of my Young Ornithologists who joined us to help scribe and demonstrate their considerable and ever growing knowledge and banding skills.

We had a slow but steady stream of birds in the nets, with a total of only 13 banded. It was a nice pace and just enough birds for the students to see without having to worry about the nets being full of birds..

Banded 13:

1 Mourning Dove
1 Traill’s Flycatcher
1 Eastern Bluebird
3 Grey Catbirds
1 Cedar Waxwing
3 Yellow Warblers
1 Common Yellowthroat
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Song Sparrow
1 American Goldfinch

A nest of young Tree Swallows - just hatched.  -K. Paveley

A nest of young Tree Swallows – just hatched. -K. Paveley


Fern Hill students are also monitoring Eastern Bluebird boxes, and after the weekend we discovered that several of the Tree Swallow nests occupying the boxes had 1-2 day old chicks! They looked like tiny pink jelly beans, and we were all very excited!

ET’s: 33 spp
Katherine

May 27th & 28th – Friday Fun Fou

And so it begins. The Bagger Trek Unit mustering on the Campanellis' porch in west Hamilton just before setting out on the Long March. From left: Giovanni, Bagger Sam, Ezra, Alessandra, Angela.   -E. Campanelli

And so it begins. The Bagger Trek Unit mustering on the Campanellis’ porch in west Hamilton just before setting out on the Long March. From left: Giovanni, Bagger Sam, Ezra, Alessandra, Angela. -E. Campanelli


“Friday Fun Fou”: Nadine, a visitor bemoaning her young son’s complete disinterest in French immersion, suggested this as a good term for the Baggers’ Long March. Translated freely it means (I think) Friday Fun Madness/Folly/Foolishness (you pick). A number of the Baggers decided it would be a good thing to walk from the west end of Hamilton to Ruthven….overnight! Why? You might ask. The physical challenge. The experiencing of night. Bonding. Just for the hell of it (again, you pick). Anyway, they set out from the Victoria Park area around 6:45 Friday night. They followed the old rail trail up the Mountain; then got onto the Chippewa Bike/Walking Rail Trail to Caledonia; then took McClung Road to the Rotary Riverside Trail to York; and lastly, Highway 54 to Ruthven. A total of 41 kilometers!! At 4:50 AM I passed them trudging along the shoulder of the highway with only a kilometer or so to go. (I could easily have mistaken them for a group of bedraggled refugees.) None took the proffered ride; they hobbled into the park around 5:30, exhausted but very pleased with themselves. And so they should be.
Marking the halfway mark.....still smiling.   -E. Campanelli

Marking the halfway mark…..still smiling. -E. Campanelli


Those of you that lived in the Hamilton area and are of a certain….maturity can likely remember the March of Dimes Walkathons that we used to go on. The initial couple were 50 k’s long, complete with water/bathroom stations all along the route. Yeah, we were doing it to raise money for a good cause but really it was the physical challenge and the camaraderie, taking on that challenge with our friends, that drove us. Glad to see that some young folks still have that drive! And kudos to their parents who, in this age of over-protectionism, allowed them to do it.
Bagger Sam.....feeling it.

Bagger Sam…..feeling it.


Bagger Sam....still feeling it.

Bagger Sam….still feeling it.


There was one notable story of teenage doggedness: Bagger Sam’s shoes were a bit small causing him great leg pain. So, he took them off and did most of the hike in his socks.
The last 100 meters. Ben (the tall guy in the middle) jumped out of his car to lend moral support.  -E. Campanelli

The last 100 meters. Ben (the tall guy in the middle) jumped out of his car to lend moral support. -E. Campanelli


Of course, they weren’t much good for the rest of the banding day, rotating periods of napping, eating Timbits, and sitting around with the occasional net round. But they were a happy group for sure.
Speaking of net rounds: they weren’t very productive either Friday or today. The heat was a factor but, let’s face it, the migration here is pretty well done, just the last stragglers left to go. Most birds are well into nesting and/or raising young.
This Blue-winged Warbler is at least 7 years old.   -M. Gibson

This Blue-winged Warbler is at least 7 years old. -M. Gibson


Although we have not been much interesting banding, we have been getting some intriguing retraps: a Blue-winged Warbler that is at least 7 years old and an Eastern Wood Pewee that is the same. Think what they have seen on their long flights to and from the tropics!!!
Faye with the ancient Blue-winged Warbler - which, ironically, she originally banded.   -M. Gibson

Faye with the ancient Blue-winged Warbler – which, ironically, she originally banded. -M. Gibson


Friday; Banded 12:
1 Traill’s Flycatcher
5 Gray Catbirds
1 Cedar Waxwing
2 Yellow Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler
2 Song Sparrows

ET’s: 57 spp.

Saturday; Banded 20:
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 Eastern Kingbird
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 American Robin
1 Gray Catbird
6 Cedar Waxwings
1 Yellow Warbler
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Indigo Buntings
1 Field Sparrow
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 60 spp.

Melissa and Madeline processing a bird under the watchful eyes of Katherine and Bill Read.   -K. Paveley

Melissa and Madeline processing a bird under the watchful eyes of Katherine and Bill Read. -K. Paveley


Fern Hill Burlington; Friday:
It was a hot and muggy banding day, but we had a couple firsts for the season at Fern Hill Burlington. Highlights of the day included an Indigo Bunting, a yellow bellied flycatcher, warbling and Philadelphia vireos.
2nd Year male Indigo Bunting.   -K. Paveley

2nd Year male Indigo Bunting. -K. Paveley


Banded a total of 17 birds, with an daily ET 21 species throughout the day. A quieter day, but I enjoyed the slow pace and took the opportunity to practice my extracting skills under the watch of Bill Read.
Cedar Waxwing at Fern Hill - they seem to be everywhere.   -K. Paveley

Cedar Waxwing at Fern Hill – they seem to be everywhere. -K. Paveley


Banded 17:
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
4 Grey Catbirds
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Warbling Vireo
1 Philadelphia Vireo
2 Yellow Warblers
1 Indigo Bunting
2 Song Sparrows
3 American Goldfinches
1 House Sparrow
Finding a brood patch on a female Yellow Warbler.   -K. Paveley

Finding a brood patch on a female Yellow Warbler. -K. Paveley


ET’s: 21 spp.
Katherine

Photos of the Long March:

Spirits of the Long March.      -E. Campanelli

Spirits of the Long March. -E. Campanelli


A denizen of the dark uncovered- American Toad along the Chippewa Trail.   -E. Campanelli

A denizen of the dark uncovered- American Toad along the Chippewa Trail. -E. Campanelli


Hammocks were quickly put up and filled with tired walkers.

Hammocks were quickly put up and filled with tired walkers.


Two peas in a pod.

Two peas in a pod.


A group hug helped Bagger Sam get back on his feet.

A group hug helped Bagger Sam get back on his feet.

Banding Photo Gallery:

The record-setting 61st Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

The record-setting 61st Rose-breasted Grosbeak.


He's not big on French immersion but he loves birds.   -I. Turjansky

He’s not big on French immersion but he loves birds. -I. Turjansky


Great Crested Flycatcher.   -I. Turjansky

Great Crested Flycatcher. -I. Turjansky


Max releasing a Yellow Warbler - his first banded bird. -I Turjansky

Max releasing a Yellow Warbler – his first banded bird. -I Turjansky


Marnie with her first banded bird - female Indigo Bunting.  -I. Turjansky

Marnie with her first banded bird – female Indigo Bunting. -I. Turjansky


Yellow-billed Cuckoo.   -E. Campanelli

Yellow-billed Cuckoo. -E. Campanelli


Northern Cardinal nest with 2 (now 3) eggs.   -I. Turjansky

Northern Cardinal nest with 2 (now 3) eggs. -I. Turjansky


Tessa with a Cedar Waxwing she's just banded.   -I. turjansky

Tessa with a Cedar Waxwing she’s just banded. -I. turjansky


An irate (red crest raised) Eastern Kingbird.   -I. Turjansky

An irate (red crest raised) Eastern Kingbird. -I. Turjansky


Very appropriate equipment for the banding lab don't you think?

Very appropriate equipment for the banding lab don’t you think?


A furtive glance at a female Hooded Merganser, which likely is nesting in the immediate area, possibly in one of the Wood Duck boxes.   -M. Gibson

A furtive glance at a female Hooded Merganser, which likely is nesting in the immediate area, possibly in one of the Wood Duck boxes. -M. Gibson


Female Ruby-throated hummingbird.   -M. Gibson

Female Ruby-throated hummingbird. -M. Gibson


Soaring Bald Eagle. One is seen now almost every day.  -M. Gibson

Soaring Bald Eagle. One is seen now almost every day. -M. Gibson

May 26th – On The Home Stretch

Our 2nd male Mourning Warbler of the Spring.

Our 2nd male Mourning Warbler of the Spring.


Just 5 days to go! In some ways it’s hard to believe….on the other, it feels like a long slog. Still, we’re doing well. We’re at 1,909 birds banded which is just 136 below the record of 2045 set in 2012. So….if we manage 28 birds per day over the next 5 days, we will set a new Spring record.

We have already set record numbers for banding: Brown-headed Cowbirds (155); White-throated Sparrows (151); Yellow Warbler (133…and running); and we’re tied for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (60…and, hopefully, running).

Usually at this time of the season numbers have dwindled markedly but (knock on wood) we’re still getting half decent numbers and certainly a nice variety. Today we got another Mourning Warbler and Canada Warbler. And, for a brief moment, I thought I might have heard a Cerulean Warbler out front of the Mansion but it didn’t sing again and I couldn’t find a bird that I could transform into one.

Female Canada Warbler.

Female Canada Warbler.


Speaking of “almosts”, there are both Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos about and I almost caught one but it jumped out of the net just as I approached it. I could see that it was Yellow-billed as it sped off….laughing.

Banded 37:
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
2 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers
3 Traill’s Flycatchers
1 Least Flycatcher
8 Gray Catbirds
6 Cedar Waxwings
1 Red-eyed Vireo
3 Yellow Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Canada Warbler
2 American Redstarts
1 Mourning Warbler
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 Baltimore Oriole
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 62 spp.
Rick