September 24th – Avoiding The Lights?

The first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the season....can snow be much further behind?

The first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the season….can snow be much further behind?


There’s a lot of equipment and a variety of vehicles in the parking lot at Ruthven associated with this film shoot. For security reasons (I think), the big lights in the lot have been turned on so that the security folks can see anything that’s going on. The lights are quite brilliant and I’m wondering if migrants might avoid them when coming down at the end of a night’s flight. The reason I’m questioning this is that there were so few birds around this morning despite cooler temperatures and a NE wind. I was expecting more…..

However, we did have 2 “new” birds for the season: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Golden-crowned Kinglet.

Banded 13:
1 Hairy Woodpecker
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Swainson’s Thrushes
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
1 American Redstart
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 40 spp.

Photo Gallery:

Kristin releasing a male Hairy Woodpecker - a real handful.   -F. Socholotiuk

Kristin releasing a male Hairy Woodpecker – a real handful. -F. Socholotiuk


Adult male American Redstart. These pretty warblers won't be with us much longer.

Adult male American Redstart. These pretty warblers won’t be with us much longer.


White-throated Sparrow. When will the main body of sparrows arrive.....?

White-throated Sparrow. When will the main body of sparrows arrive…..?


Lincoln's Sparrow.

Lincoln’s Sparrow.


Shelley with a Blackpoll.   -F. Socholotiuk

Shelley with a Blackpoll. -F. Socholotiuk


Male Hairy Woodpecker.

Male Hairy Woodpecker.


Rick

September 23rd – Movie Shoot!

As a novel fundraiser for the banding lab, I decided to sell kisses. There was quite a line-up in no time!!

As a novel fundraiser for the banding lab, I decided to sell kisses. There was quite a line-up in no time!!


For the next week or so the CBC will be shooting a movie at Ruthven. The place is a hive of activity! Equipment everywhere. People rushing here and there. I really don’t like these times….not because of the fact that Ruthven is being used for filming but because of the inconvenience I encounter all around the grounds……fans rushing up to me: “Mr. Redford! Mr. Redford! please sign my autograph book!!” or, not quite as often, “Mr. Clooney! Hey George!! please sign my [well-endowed] t-shirt!”

“Look”, I say. “I’m just the resident bird guy.”

“Sure you are…” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

“No, really, I’m just the bird guy.”

“Well, you must have a great make-up artist that can turn a hunk like you into this wizened old bald guy with elephant skin….”

“Yeah, I do….and he doesn’t come cheap.” And this will go on all week. What a pain!

The Mansion is a hive of cinematic activity.

The Mansion is a hive of cinematic activity.


Equipment everywhere!

Equipment everywhere!


The parking lot is full of trailers - of equipment and for dressing rooms.

The parking lot is full of trailers – of equipment and for dressing rooms.


But the birds don’t give a damn. That’s right: THE BIRDS DON’T GIVE A DAMN! They continue to flow through as if nothing is going on. This fake drama pales in comparison to the real life drama of migration.

Banded 35:
2 Eastern Wood Pewees
1 Gray Catbird
1 Blue-headed Vireo
3 Philadelphia Vireos
5 Red-eyed Vireos
4 Tennessee Warblers
1 Nashville Warbler
2 Chestnut-sided Warblers
2 Magnolia Warblers

Male Black-throated Green Warbler.  -N. Furber

Male Black-throated Green Warbler. -N. Furber


Female Black-throated Green Warbler.  -N. Furber

Female Black-throated Green Warbler. -N. Furber


2 Black-throated Green Warblers
1 Blackburnian Warbler
Young male Blackburnian Warbler.   -N. Furber

Young male Blackburnian Warbler. -N. Furber


3 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Black & White Warbler
7 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 31 spp.

At Fern Hill Burlington:

Some young (and an old) ornithologists.

Some young (and an old) ornithologists.


Not only did we have a nice mix of birds but also a new group of potential young ornithologists – young people that are keen about birds! The rain/drizzle held off all morning so we were able to keep the nets open until noon.

Banded 15:
2 Blue Jays
4 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Swainson’s Thrushes
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Nashville Warbler

Great shot of Melissa; lousy shot of a young male American Redstart.

Great shot of Melissa; lousy shot of a young male American Redstart.


1 American Redstart
1 Common Yellowthroat
3 Chipping Sparrows

ET’s: 23 spp.

Photo Gallery:

Stunning male Black-throated Green Warbler.   M. Martin

Stunning male Black-throated Green Warbler. M. Martin


Evan with a Blue Jay he just banded.....GO JAYS!!

Evan with a Blue Jay he just banded…..GO JAYS!!


Amy, one of our new Young Ornithologists, with a Downy Woodpecker.

Amy, one of our new Young Ornithologists, with a Downy Woodpecker.


Logan with his first banded bird: Red-eyed Vireo.

Logan with his first banded bird: Red-eyed Vireo.


Young male Common Yellowthroat (the black mask is just moulting in).  -K. Petrie

Young male Common Yellowthroat (the black mask is just moulting in). -K. Petrie


Young male Black-throated blue Warbler.   -K. Petrie

Young male Black-throated blue Warbler. -K. Petrie


Young (brown eye) Red-eyed Vireo.   -K. Petrie

Young (brown eye) Red-eyed Vireo. -K. Petrie


Soaring Red-tailed Hawk.    -K. Petrie

Soaring Red-tailed Hawk. -K. Petrie

September 22nd – Good First Round And Then….

Female Canada Warbler

Female Canada Warbler


It was cool first thing and the first round showed promise with good numbers and variety but then……the sun came up and so did the temperature. After that birds were few and far between.

We did see our first Dark-eyed Junco of the season though.

Adult male American Redstart. Young males are gray and yellowish orange.

Adult male American Redstart. Young males are gray and yellowish orange.


Banded 25:
1 Blue Jay
3 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Gray-cheeked Thrushes
4 Swainson’s Thrushes
3 Gray Catbirds
2 Magnolia Warblers
7 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Canada Warbler
1 American Redstart
1 Song Sparrow

ET’s: 43 spp.
Rick

September 21st – And Still Warm!

A very non-descript Yellow-rumped Warbler....but a Yellow-rumped Warbler nonetheless...and the first of the Fall season.   -N. Furber

A very non-descript Yellow-rumped Warbler….but a Yellow-rumped Warbler nonetheless…and the first of the Fall season. -N. Furber


Boy, it doesn’t take long for the air to heat up as soon as the sun clears the horizon – whether you’re at Ruthven or Fern Hill in Burlington. And when it does, the birds sort of take a siesta….and you wish you could too! Slow going at Ruthven:
Banded 16:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Gray-cheeked Thrushes
1 Gray Catbird
1 Blue-headed Vireo
This has been a good season so far for Blue-headed Vireos at Ruthven.  -N. Furber

This has been a good season so far for Blue-headed Vireos at Ruthven. -N. Furber


2 Red-eyed Vireos
1 Tennessee Warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Blackpoll Warbler
1 Scarlet Tanager
2 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrow

ET’s: 35 spp.

Katherine, Madeline, and Melissa with Madeline's favourite bird (and the first of the Fall season): Downy Woodpecker.

Katherine, Madeline, and Melissa with Madeline’s favourite bird (and the first of the Fall season): Downy Woodpecker.


Fern Hill Burlington:
Katherine put the feeders up first thing this morning – the first time they’ve been available to birds since early June. But the birds hadn’t forgotten what they were all about; within minutes chickadees, followed shortly by other species, were at them. In the course of the morning we retrapped 8 chickadees, 3 of them from 2013 at the start of the banding program. They “knew” what those funny hanging things were for….
This Black-capped Chickadee is 4 years old - one of the first one banded by the program.

This Black-capped Chickadee is 4 years old – one of the first one banded by the program.


Banded 9:
1 Northern Flicker
1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Blue Jay
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 30 spp. (including a small flight -7- Broad-winged Hawks)

Madeline and Melissa with a Northern Flicker.

Madeline and Melissa with a Northern Flicker.


Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe.


A very young Chipping Sparrow.

A very young Chipping Sparrow.


Go Jays!!!

Go Jays!!!


Rick

September 17th-20th: Catching Up

Connecticut Warbler - an uncommon Fall visitor at Ruthven.

Connecticut Warbler – an uncommon Fall visitor at Ruthven.


It’s the last day of Summer! Feels more like the middle of Summer to me…..as have the last 4 days. I’ve seen only one tree changing colour – a Red Maple down along the Carolinian Trail. This sort of weather doesn’t give any impetus to bird migration – it’s not chasing them out of the north country. The birds are just sauntering along, taking their time, no need to rush. Consequently, we haven’t been banding a lot of birds; we’ve had a nice blend with a few cool ones blended in (Connecticut Warbler, Northern Parulas) but, on the whole, it’s been a “relaxed” pace.

September 17th; Banded 16:
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 American Robin
1 Gray Catbird
1 Blue-headed Vireo
4 Red-eyed Vireos
2 Tennessee Warblers
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
2 Blackpoll Warblers
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 44 spp.

Northern Flicker (male) and Red-bellied Woodpecker (female).

Northern Flicker (male) and Red-bellied Woodpecker (female).


Northern Flicker.

Northern Flicker.


September 18th; Banded 30:
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 Least Flycatcher
1 Blue Jay
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
1 Gray-cheeked thrush
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
3 Philadelphia Vireos
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
7 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Connecticut Warbler
1 Song Sparrow
1 Purple Finch
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 47 spp.

The 19th was highlighted by a visit from the Larks....and a picnic.

The 19th was highlighted by a visit from the Larks….and a picnic.


September 19th; Banded 22:
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Gray-cheeked thrush
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
3 Philadelphia Vireos
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Tennessee Warbler
3 Magnolia Warblers
1 Bay-breasted Warbler
3 Blackpoll Warblers
2 Common Yellowthroats
1 Wilson’s Warbler
3 White-throated Sparrows

ET’s: 39 spp.

Young male Northern Parula.

Young male Northern Parula.


Female Northern Parula.

Female Northern Parula.


September 20th; Banded 33:
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 House Wren
5 Swainson’s Thrushes
1 Gray Catbird
2 Blue-headed Vireos
1 Philadelphia Vireo
1 Red-eyed Vireo
1 Tennessee Warbler
2 Nashville Warblers
2 Northern Parulas
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
3 Magnolia Warblers
3 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Northern Waterthrush
2 Common Yellowthroats
4 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow

ET’s: 53 spp.

Photo Gallery:

Young male black-throated Blue Warbler.  -I. Turjansky

Young male black-throated Blue Warbler. -I. Turjansky


Male White-breasted Nuthatch.  -A. Wilcox

Male White-breasted Nuthatch. -A. Wilcox


Young male Common Yellowthroat.

Young male Common Yellowthroat.


Philadelphia Vireo - we're catching more than usual this Fall.

Philadelphia Vireo – we’re catching more than usual this Fall.


Note the tiny 10th primary which doesn't extend beyond the primary coverts - sign of a Philadelphia Vireo.

Note the tiny 10th primary which doesn’t extend beyond the primary coverts – sign of a Philadelphia Vireo.


The 10th primary on the Warbling Vireo is larger and extends beyond the primary coverts.

The 10th primary on the Warbling Vireo is larger and extends beyond the primary coverts.


Adult Red-eyed Vireo (note the red eye).

Adult Red-eyed Vireo (note the red eye).


Peter Thoem sporting the latest in banding fashion: a commemorative T-shirt from the Chokpak Ornithological Station in Kazakhstan.

Peter Thoem sporting the latest in banding fashion: a commemorative T-shirt from the Chokpak Ornithological Station in Kazakhstan.

September 18th – Up Against The Wall

Although many kilometers away across the steppe, the Tien Shan Mountains impose an impassable wall for migrating birds.

Although many kilometers away across the steppe, the Tien Shan Mountains impose an impassable wall for migrating birds.


Millions of birds breed in the taiga of Siberia and eastern Europe or in the vast steppe country of central Asia. Most of them spend the Winter in India/southeast Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. A direct flight from breeding to wintering ground would be a feat in itself but these birds have an added obstruction to deal with – the extensive mountain ranges that run for thousands of miles across their migratory pathways: the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, and the Tien Shan Mountains (Celestial Mountains).
I was standing at 11,000 feet when I took this shot; the peaks soar thousands of feet above me yet.

I was standing at 11,000 feet when I took this shot; the peaks soar thousands of feet above me yet.


The mountains are bleak and barren providing little cover (or nourishment) for migrating birds.

The mountains are bleak and barren providing little cover (or nourishment) for migrating birds.


A group of 5 of us (Peter Thoem, David Brewer, David Lamble, Larry Hubble and myself) travelled to Kazakhstan at the beginning of September to participate at a banding station in the Tien Shan Mountains – Chokpak Ornithological Station. Chokpak is situated about 530 km west of Almaty, the major city of the country, and is nestled up against the foot of the mountains, which run east/west. A ridge of low hills running north/south comes in from the north. Birds tend not to go over high mountains and so these two topographical features tend to funnel migrating birds through a pass where they meet – Chokpak. When birds move south and are confronted by the Tien Shan they head west along their foot until the mountains either end or bend to the south.
Chokpak Hill looking west - see the curve in the mountain ridge in the distance.

Chokpak Hill looking west – see the curve in the mountain ridge in the distance.


Chokpak Hill looking east. Note the ridge of hills running in from the left (north). Also note the line of trees/scrub running east/west.

Chokpak Hill looking east. Note the ridge of hills running in from the left (north). Also note the line of trees/scrub running east/west.


At Chokpak, looking south toward the Tien Shan Mountains - a solid wall barring the way of small migrants.

At Chokpak, looking south toward the Tien Shan Mountains – a solid wall barring the way of small migrants.

At Chokpak there is a relatively low hill that the birds must go over. The scientists studying these migrants have placed a large Heligoland trap at the top of the hill to capture them. A Heligoland trap is like a long mesh funnel that birds enter unknowingly; the flight space gets smaller and smaller until, near the end, it is only a couple of meters wide/high. At this point there is an “exit” – a plexiglass sheet that they think is an opening out – they bump against it and slide down into a collecting box. These boxes are interchangeable: when one is full it can be slid out and another put in its place.

The "mouth" of the huge Heligoland - a long mesh funnel.

The “mouth” of the huge Heligoland – a long mesh funnel.


In the mouth of the Heligoland looking west - the little white patch at the back is the entrance to the collecting box.

In the mouth of the Heligoland looking west – the little white patch at the back is the entrance to the collecting box.


The main factor determining whether birds are caught or not is the wind: if it is out of the east (a tail wind for autumn migrants) then the birds fly high over the trap. But if it is out of the west (a headwind), then they tend to stay low seeking shelter from it and enter the trap.
Birds fluttering around the entrance to the collecting box - the white square is an opaque piece of plexiglass that lure the birds into the box; they bump against the glass and then slide down into a holding box. Net baffles extending from the sides prevent birds from going back out of the trap.

Birds fluttering around the entrance to the collecting box – the white square is an opaque piece of plexiglass that lure the birds into the box; they bump against the glass and then slide down into a holding box. Net baffles extending from the sides prevent birds from going back out of the trap.


Most birds banded are caught in the Heligoland trap but we also ran 8 mist nets set out in lanes cut in the scrubby forest at the base of the hill. These nets tended to catch species that would not be caught in the larger trap (e.g., various small warbler species).
One of several mist net lanes we cut into the scrub. These nets caught birds that weren't often caught in the Heligoland trap.

One of several mist net lanes we cut into the scrub. These nets caught birds that weren’t often caught in the Heligoland trap.


In the early days (the station was formed in 1966), there were 3 Heligoland traps on the go at one time – all side by side. Now, with manpower restrictions they are able to run only one. Still it is not unusual to get 1-2,000 birds on a good day!
Red eye indicates that this is an adult European Bee-eater. Bee-eaters migrate in large flocks over open country and are often caught in good numbers in the Heligoland.

Red eye indicates that this is an adult European Bee-eater. Bee-eaters migrate in large flocks over open country and are often caught in good numbers in the Heligoland.


Orange feathers in the secondary coverts indicate a male bird.

Orange feathers in the secondary coverts indicate a male bird.


Young (brown-eyed) European Bee-eater.

Young (brown-eyed) European Bee-eater.


Rick

September 15th & 16th – One Quarter Finished!

The joy of releasing a Philadelphia Vireo.

The joy of releasing a Philadelphia Vireo.


How time flies! It seems like we just began and here we are sitting at the one quarter mark of the migration (our last day is November 7th). For the past 2 days we’ve enjoyed sensational weather but just a trickle of migrants. We’ll see if the unsettled weather called for on the weekend shakes things up.
A surprise: an early-returning White-throated Sparrow.

A surprise: an early-returning White-throated Sparrow.


I was surprised to get the first White-throated Sparrow of the season on the 15th. It’s pretty early….maybe a sign of things to come.

I was walking the dog at Ruthven tonight (16th) at around 5:30 and was thrilled to see at least 20 Common Nighthawks foraging over the Butterfly Meadow and parking lot for more than half an hour. I haven’t seen that many nighthawks since I was a kid.

September 15th; Banded 15:
1 Eastern Wood Pewee
1 Least Flycatcher

Swainson's Thrush.

Swainson’s Thrush.


2 Swainson’s Thrushes
4 Gray Catbirds
2 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Ovenbird
1 Common Yellowthroat
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 House Finches

ET’s: 46 spp.

September 16th; Banded 22:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 House Wren
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush

For comparison: Gray-cheeked Thrush (left) and Swainson's Thrush (right)/

For comparison: Gray-cheeked Thrush (left) and Swainson’s Thrush (right)/


1 Swainson’s Thrush
2 Gray Catbirds
2 Philadelphia Vireos
1 Red-eyed Vireo
2 Nashville Warblers
1 Magnolia Warbler
5 Blackpoll Warblers
1 Song Sparrow
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 50 spp.
Rick