October 24th – 16 Owls!!!

Matt, the Owl Whisperer, with Nancy and James.     -B. Fotheringham

Matt, the Owl Whisperer, with Nancy and James. -B. Fotheringham


Yes, that’s right folks: Nancy’s Owl Team banded 16 Northern Saw-whet Owls last night!! There is only one scientifically plausible explanation for this influx: the return of Matt Timpf, the Owl Whisperer. Matt returns from 4 months away and, wham!! The nets are full. There can be no other explanation. The Team was catching birds from the second net round right through to the last one at 3:30 AM (which somewhat explains Nancy’s bleary-eyed look this morning). Who knows what tonight (or tomorrow night) might bring?
The first four of the night's 16 Saw-whets.   -B. Fotheringham

The first four of the night’s 16 Saw-whets. -B. Fotheringham


Matt applying a band.    -B. Fotheringham

Matt applying a band. -B. Fotheringham


The Three Amigos.      -B. Fotheringham

The Three Amigos. -B. Fotheringham


Banded and released - this bird is readjusting to the night.   -B. Fotheringham

Banded and released – this bird is readjusting to the night. -B. Fotheringham


This was great news to be greeted with when I arrived at the banding station this morning. (Actually, the news was in the data book – not conveyed verbally by any member of the team – James and Nancy were sawing logs in the office.)

We needed some good news at this early time as the nets were frozen and the poles were slick with ice. We had to wait over an hour and a half for them to thaw before we could open. Even then it took a while for the birds to warm up and get morning. We caught a lot more birds in the second half of the morning. American Goldfinches are making their presence felt (at last) – we banded 30 of them.

Banded 72:
16 Northern Saw-whet Owls (from last night)
2 Downy Woodpeckers
1 Brown Creeper
5 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Northern Cardinal
3 American Tree Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
7 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 Red-winged Blackbirds
30 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 35 spp.

Rick

October 23rd – Winding Down

Four of last night's 8 Saw-whets.   -B. Fotheringham

Four of last night’s 8 Saw-whets. -B. Fotheringham


We had a great night last night: 8 Northern Saw-whet Owls banded! Nancy has done a wonderful job establishing this program…and making it a nice place to be. Her sidekick, Irene, has added enormously to this positive atmosphere. On owl nights the banding lab is just a nice place to be….whether we catch owls or not. We had ideal conditions: light northerly winds, cold temps, partially cloudy skies….and lots of owls on the move. The next owling night will be Friday (and maybe Saturday).
Nancy, very pleased with the night's success.   -B. Fotheringham

Nancy, very pleased with the night’s success. -B. Fotheringham


Young (new) feathers fluoresce pink; older feathers do not. The mix of old and new feathers indicate that this is an older bird.   -B. Fotheringham

Young (new) feathers fluoresce pink; older feathers do not. The mix of old and new feathers indicate that this is an older bird. -B. Fotheringham


The feather atop the index finger is older than the ones beside it.

The feather atop the index finger is older than the ones beside it.


Attitude.

Attitude.


Marg and I with two owls.  - B. Fotheringham

Marg and I with two owls. – B. Fotheringham

This morning it was clear and cool – a beautiful day no matter how you look at it. But what I noticed the most was the lack of flying birds: very few grackles, robins, and blackbirds and NO Cedar Waxwings. The bulk of the migration has passed us by. Now it’s time for the “winter residents” (those birds that breed in the boreal forest but spend their winters here) to re-establish themselves. Juncos have been moving into the area for the past 10 days or so and today we got the first American Tree Sparrow of the season – a sign that things are winding down. We still have a few good catching days ahead of us (our last day is November 7th) but the big days, or possible big days, are gone.

The first American Tree Sparrow of the season.

The first American Tree Sparrow of the season.


We had enough birds today to keep it interesting but at a rate that it made it possible to begin to teach some folks from the University of Waterloo about the joys of banding.
Adam, Heather, Rebecca and Courtney from the University of Waterloo.  -R. Bauer

Adam, Heather, Rebecca and Courtney from the University of Waterloo. -R. Bauer


Banded 58:
1 Mourning Dove
8 Northern Saw-whet Owls (from last night)
5 Black-capped Chickadees
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Brown Creeper
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
2 American Robins
2 Northern Cardinals
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Purple Finches
3 House Finches
22 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 32 spp.
Rick

October 22nd – Busy Day

This female Cooper's Hawk is the quintessential predator.

This female Cooper’s Hawk is the quintessential predator.


Somewhere between the capture of a BIG female Cooper’s Hawk in the morning, my talk to a class at McMaster in the afternoon, and the banding of 4 Northern Saw-whet Owls (from just the 1st two net rounds – there may have been more….but I went home for some shut-eye), we managed to band another 62 birds.
Our second Cooper's Hawk of the season - a female.

Our second Cooper’s Hawk of the season – a female.


Interestingly the hawk was caught in a net that, at the same time as the hawk, contained 2 flickers, a robin and a cardinal – all desired food items, size-wise, for a bird of this size (it weighed over 500 g.).

As mentioned, we caught 2 owls on each of the first two net rounds at night. I am looking forward to the pictures from Bob Fotheringham to show differences in colouration in the birds. The oldest bird (ASY) had quite a white face compared to the others….some might even say “grizzled”.

Banded 63:
1 Cooper’s Hawk
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Yellow-shafted Flickers
1 Blue Jay
6 Golden-crowned Kinglets
5 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
4 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
2 Myrtle Warblers
3 Northern Cardinals
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
2 Fox Sparrows
4 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrows
4 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
2 Purple Finches
5 House Finches
10 American Goldfinches
[Note: Saw-whet Owls are reported on the day after the night before...]

Rick

October 21st –

One of two Blue-headed Vireos we banded this morning.

One of two Blue-headed Vireos we banded this morning.


Rain during the night stopped prior to opening but it threatened all morning. And, although we never got rain we did get intermittent skeins of light drizzle/mist. So net rounds were frequent and we didn’t go the full 6 hours (suggested by “constant effort” netting protocols). The river flats were busy with birds, especially sparrows and Purple Finches. We have a couple of nets down there but sometimes I wish we had the consistent manpower that would allow us to explore the use of the flats by migrants – in other words, run more nets down there.
Orange-crowned Warbler.

Orange-crowned Warbler.


The weather grounded many migrants. We retrapped 33 birds, most banded within the past several days. They’re waiting for better conditions and trying to pack on fat reserves in preparation.
The extensive orange on the crown indicates this Orange-crowned Warbler is a male.

The extensive orange on the crown indicates this Orange-crowned Warbler is a male.


We’re starting to get larger concentrations of American Goldfinches and I’m surprised by the number of older, AHY birds making up the catch. In past years when we’ve banded large numbers of goldfinches the ration of HY:AHY was much higher.

The most exciting bird today was a Peregrine Falcon that made a stoop at a Cedar Waxwing (unsuccessfully) right over the top of the banding lab.

Banded 73:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
3 American Robins
19 Cedar Waxwings
2 Blue-headed Vireos
4 Myrtle Warblers
3 Northern Cardinals
3 Fox Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
2 Swamp Sparrows
6 White-throated Sparrows
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Purple Finches
19 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 42 spp.
Rick

October 20th – Personal Preference

Drawing of a Saw-whet by budding artist Alessandra Wilcox.

Drawing of a Saw-whet by budding artist Alessandra Wilcox.


Last night proved to be another good one for Saw-whets – Nancy got one on each of four net rounds: at 9, 10, 11 and midnight. I got to see the first two and even band the 10 o’clock bird. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the little devils; they’re cute and all that but, to be frank, I much prefer the subtle beauty of an Orange-crowned Warbler (one of which we caught today) or the feistiness of a Thick-billed Murre (which we did NOT get today). But….it’s still cool to catch them and a lot of our visitors like them over all the rest we band. Personal preference is a funny thing.
"My" owl last night.   -B. Fotheringham

“My” owl last night. -B. Fotheringham


It was overcast, cool and threatening rain for most of the morning. The early rounds weren’t particularly productive but the later rounds made up for them (with both birds and leaves). We seem to have had an influx of Purple Finches – we banded 12 but there were many more around. They were caught in nets bordering the river flats. It would be interesting to know what plant seeds are attracting them there.

Banded 60:
4 Northern Saw-whet Owls (last night)
3 Black-capped Chickadees
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
5 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
4 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
4 Cedar Waxwings
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
1 American Redstart
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
1 White-crowned Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
12 Purple Finches
1 House Finch
12 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 42 spp.
Rick

October 17th-19th: Three Hectic Days…and Nights

The Fern Hillian's Owl Crew.

The Fern Hillian’s Owl Crew.


We’ve had unsettled weather for the past three days and a steady, although not overwhelming, flow of birds through the site. We ran both day (Migration Monitoring) and night (owling).

Friday the 17th: Temperatures were relatively mild (mid-teens) but it was windy. Despite billowing nets we managed to band 86 birds. In the evening we were joined by a group of keen birders from Fern Hill School for the start of our joint Breakfast With The Birds Program. The students have dinner with us and then help set up the owl nets and put out the sound box. We were VERY fortunate to catch one owl on the first net round!! The students then went off to sleep in the historic Hill House.

Michael, Haider and Joanne with the lone owl we banded Friday night.

Michael, Haider and Joanne with the lone owl we banded Friday night.


Snack time in the Drill Hall.

Snack time in the Drill Hall.


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Alex with a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Alex with a Northern Saw-whet Owl.


Joanne Fleet with a happy group of Fern Hillians.

Joanne Fleet with a happy group of Fern Hillians.


Banded 86:
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Brown Creeper
13 Golden-crowned Kinglets
9 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
5 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
14 Cedar Waxwings
5 Myrtle Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow
3 Song Sparrows
2 Swamp Sparrows
7 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
4 Purple Finches
1 House Finch
13 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 40 spp.

Ezra with birds on his mind.

Ezra with birds on his mind.


Golden-crowned Kinglet.

Golden-crowned Kinglet.

October 18th:
The Fern Hillians were able to join us shortly after the nets were opened and thus got a full morning of banding – experiencing what it’s really like to be involved in a full-time banding program. They did a great job!! We were also joined by a variety of visitors – some new, some old, some in-between. So we were busy bird-wise and socially.

Justin with his banded bird - a Myrtle Warbler.

Justin with his banded bird – a Myrtle Warbler.


Wing detail of a young (HY) blue Jay.

Wing detail of a young (HY) blue Jay.

The highlight of the day though was actually at night when the crew caught 4 Northern Saw-whet Owls!

Saturday night's Saw-whet Owl crew.   -B. Fotheringham

Saturday night’s Saw-whet Owl crew. -B. Fotheringham


Ezra with one of 4 Northern Saw-whet Owls banded Saturday night.  -B. Fotheringham

Ezra with one of 4 Northern Saw-whet Owls banded Saturday night. -B. Fotheringham


The deadly claws of a Saw-whet Owl.  -B. Fotheringham

The deadly claws of a Saw-whet Owl. -B. Fotheringham


Wing detail of a Saw-whet.   -B. Fotheringham

Wing detail of a Saw-whet. -B. Fotheringham

Banded 62:
1 Mourning Dove
1 Northern Saw-whet Owl (from the night before)
1 Blue Jay
2 Brown Creepers
4 Golden-crowned Kinglets
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
3 Eastern Bluebirds
4 Hermit Thrushes
12 Cedar Waxwings
6 Myrtle Warblers
3 Northern Cardinals
3 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
5 House Finches
9 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 41 spp.

October 19th:
We had another good flow of birds through the site – due to light NW winds and partially overcast skies. The highlight of the day was found by Rafaelle Camasta when he was sitting by the feeders taking photos: a very unusual (for Ruthven and for this time of year) Evening Grosbeak!

Surprise of the month: an Evening Grosbeak at the feeder.   -R. Camasta

Surprise of the month: an Evening Grosbeak at the feeder. -R. Camasta


Evening Grosbeak.    -R. Camasta

Evening Grosbeak. -R. Camasta

Banded 76:
4 Mourning Doves
4 Northern Saw-whet Owls (from the night before)
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 Brown Creepers
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
5 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
22 Cedar Waxwings
3 Myrtle Warblers
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrows
4 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Purple Finches
2 House Finches
11 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 38 spp.

A very late Wilson's Warbler.    -R. Camasta

A very late Wilson’s Warbler. -R. Camasta


Lisa with a Brown Creeper - one of her favourites.    -R. Camasta

Lisa with a Brown Creeper – one of her favourites. -R. Camasta

Cedar Waxwing with a Barberry fruit.   -R. Camasta

Cedar Waxwing with a Barberry fruit. -R. Camasta


American Goldfinches at the nijer feeder.   -R. Camasta

American Goldfinches at the nijer feeder. -R. Camasta


And now I’m off to Ruthven for the first couple of owl net rounds to see if we’re lucky 3 nights running……
Rick

October 16th – Waiting For The Fog

A beautiful male Eastern Bluebird.

A beautiful male Eastern Bluebird.


First, I think an explanation is due in regard to the new header. Someone not familiar with the blog, chancing upon it, might think it’s a culinary site. I do have to admit: those are mighty fine breakfast bars and I’m sure Carol would be happy to share her recipe.

But the header is the work of my compatriot (and blog originator) Jeff MacLeod. And it’s painful for the pudgy little guy to see and hear about all the goodies that our wonderful volunteers bring to the lab. Because, you see, Jeff naturally carries a fat load of “3” but is prone to hyperphagia so his wonderful wife, Amanda, looks out for him and restricts his intake to reasonable levels (otherwise he’d be a “6” in no time!). So the header is Jeff’s way of getting some vicarious pleasure from the goodies that people bring – every time he opens the blog, there they are! So bear with him…..

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow


There was a thick fog/mist about the site today which held on until late in the morning. It gave the area an almost dream-like quality. The grays of the sky and fog set off the golds, oranges and bronzes of the forest leaves with just a touch of red here and there for spice. Incredibly beautiful. It was like old times: I opened all the nets on my own and closed them the same. The only difference was that Ralph arrived to catch up on the banding data entry. What a treat that is!!!
But, otherwise, no visitors, no kids, just quiet other than the birds. The catching was quite slow and didn’t pick up until later in the morning. In fact, the second net round produced only 1 bird: a previously-trapped blue Jay. I was beginning to worry…..

Banded 59:
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Golden-crowned Kinglets
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 Eastern Bluebirds
6 Hermit Thrushes
3 Cedar Waxwings
10 Myrtle Warblers
1 Western Palm Warbler
2 Northern Cardinals
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
7 White-throated Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 Purple Finch
4 House Finches
6 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 42 spp.

PS: Nancy will be trying to catch Saw-whet Owls Saturday night.
Rick