October 31st – The Final Stretch

October is done! Where did the time go? I firmly believe that you are given only so many migrations….and this one is drawing to an end. In this month we banded 1,750 birds (not counting the owls and other species that were caught outside of “standard” hours or in non-standard nets). The Top 5 for the month:
Cedar Waxing – 378
Myrtle Warbler – 267
White-throated Sparrow – 185
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 181
American Goldfinch – 134

A very handsome adult Eastern White-crowned Sparrow. -KMP


Yesterday we got the first American Tree Sparrows of the season both here and in Oakville. These are Winter residents. We are particularly interested in seeing whether resident birds return to Ruthven from their far northern breeding grounds. This morning we got the first one! It was originally banded as a young (HY) bird on December 19th, 2014. It was recaptured numerous times in 2015 and 2016 – the last time being November 2, 2016. Welcome back! Wouldn’t you love to know it’s route and where it nests?!

One of two Fox Sparrows banded today. -JNJ


It was a cold and windy morning which limited the number of nets we opened. There weren’t a lot of birds around to entice us to do otherwise…..It’s as if the avian tap has been turned off. The variety and the numbers just aren’t there any more. Where are the wheeling flocks of Cedar Waxwings? The raucous strings of Blue Jays? The flitting of warblers? All have moved south. Time to get ready for Winter….and Snow Buntings.

Banded 13:
2 Mourning Doves
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Brown Creeper
2 American Robins
2 Fox Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 34 spp.
Rick

October 30th – Windy and Cold

First American Tree Sparrow of the season….back for the Winter. -NRF


Wow! October is almost over! Where has the Fall gone!? Summer seemed to last forever and then, WHAM!, we’re into the “typical” Fall weather: cold and blustery. And you can see it in the birds – the long-distrance migrants have all gone (except maybe for the odd straggler) and the short-distance migrants have got down to the last few. Now the winter residents are moving in – notably, we got the first American Tree Sparrows of the season at both Ruthven and Fern Hill Oakville today. At Ruthven there is still a good grape crop which probably explains the Eastern Bluebirds we have been seeing (and banding) over the last couple of days. One of the most exciting developments to me is the return of a beaver to the Ruthven river flats. You can see where it has been taking down walnuts close to the river and its trail is quite evident. The fact that it likes walnuts is a real surprise. A few years ago a beaver family took down literally hundreds of small walnuts on the flats, completely changing the aspect. When their lodge was swept away in the Spring floods the walnuts returned with a vengeance. But the beavers have returned…….

The new Ott Lamp glowing pink – happy thoughts. -KMP


And now it’s blue……someone feeling down…. -KMP


Karen and Marnie felt that we needed a better light over the lab work area for skulling and appraising feather age so they went out and got a wonderful Ott lamp – which is terrific. This particular model comes with the capacity to change the colour of its base. I watched it carefully and found that it was attuned to the moods of Samuel (Samwise as the Baggers call him) to the point that it would change colour depending on his moods/thoughts: happy thoughts = pink; unhappy ones = blue. Amazing! Next time you’re their with him watch how it responds to him…..
Rick

Part of a huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds that flew over this morning. -KMP


At Ruthven:
A quiet morning with strong winds gusting from the west causing nets to
billow. Banding and observation numbers were low today but new for the
season were American Tree Sparrows. Closed early with the threat of rain
and it was a good thing we did – the rain soon came and it was dark and
nasty. A highlight today for everyone was seeing the Red-wing Blackbirds.
On census, Carol and I were on the Carolinian Trail, looking south over
Rick’s rill towards the back fields when we saw this ‘river’ of Red-wing
Blackbirds! We could hear this large flock of blackbirds before we saw
them, never anticipating the numbers. Then, we saw them moving low, next
to the treeline and following the edge of the field towards the river. A
flow of birds that just kept coming, and coming! Then, just as we were
finishing the census route you could hear this massive flock of blackbirds
on the move to the south. Sure enough, the birds flew over the banding
lab moving north east. Everyone in the banding lab saw them and were
commenting on the number of them and the noise they made. We estimated
~1000 birds, thinking there was more than that.

Banded 12:

The stiff, spikey tail of the Brown Creeper is very useful for propping it up against a tree trunk. -CMS


1 Brown Creeper
2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
3 American Tree Sparrow

This Fox Sparrow shows clearly how it got its name. -CMS


1 Fox Sparrow
2 White-throated Sparrow
2 Slate-colored Junco
1 American Goldfinch

ET’s: 25 species
A few photos from the last couple of days at Ruthven:

Male (obviously!!) Northern Cardinal. -MMG


In contrast, the drab female cardinal. -MMK


Samuel and his Bluebird Posse. -MMG


Check out the colouration of this male goldfinch’s head – getting gray with age? -KMP


One of four Eastern Bluebirds caught yesterday. -CMS


Eastern Bluebird. -CMS


Brilliant male House Finch. =CMS


Nancy

Fern Hill Oakville:
It was cold and windy at Fern Hill’s Oakville campus as well! To the point that we didn’t open a couple of the nets as they were billowing (more than the others). We had been setting out ground traps in the central courtyard and baiting them with cut corn to attract Mourning Doves but hadn’t caught any. So I decided to change and switched to simple mixed bird seed. What a difference!! We caught and banded 18 Mourning Doves, 17 of which came from the traps. We also gotour first tree sparrows of the season today as well. ON the whole we had a much better day than the Ruthven crew as we banded 41 birds.

Banded 41:
18 Mourning Doves
1 Blue Jay
1 Black-capped Chickadee

Male Golden-crowned Kinglet. -KAP


4 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin

First of the season – American Tree Sparrows with their two-toned bills. -KMP


6 American Tree Sparrows
4 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 American Goldfinches
3 House Sparrows

ET’s: 19 spp.
Rick

October 23rd-27th – The Week In Review

Red sky in the (Monday) morning…….


It’s been a hectic week – banding in the morning and attempts at catching owls on 3 nights. So not a lot of time for processing pictures or writing up daily reports. So here’s a brief overview:

Oakville’s YO’s. -KAP


The week began with the descent of the Fern Hillians on Monday and Tuesday (including a sleepover on the Coach House floor). We were busy Monday until the wind and rain started in the late afternoon. We put up nets and put out a lure tape for an hour when it stopped around 9 PM but had no luck. Tuesday was slow as not many birds ventured out in the wet windy weather.
Monday, October 23rd; Banded 67:
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Brown Creeper
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
11 Ruby-crowned Kinglets

Female Eastern Bluebird. -KMP


5 Eastern Bluebirds
7 American Robins
7 Cedar Waxwings
3 Myrtle Warblers
3 Song Sparrows
5 Dark-eyed Juncos
7 Red-winged Blackbirds
1 House Finch
11 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 35 spp.

Tuesday, October 24th; Banded 16:
1 Blue Jay
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Eastern Bluebirds
6 American Robins
1 Cedar Waxwing
2 Song Sparrows
1 White-throated Sparrows
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 28 spp.
Fotos of the Fern Hillian Expedition:

David Brewer teaching Katherine……. -JDF


So much to learn…so little time. -JDF


Katherine at work….or is it play? -JDF


Laura banding an American Robin. -JDF


Two geezers going over the data entry (and Joanne breathing a sigh of relief it’s none of hers). -JDF


Bentley with a robin he’s just banded. -KAP


Exploring the river. -KAP


Sam with a Brown Creeper. -KAP


Han with his primitive fishing rod. -KAP


Evan with an American Goldfinch. -KAP

The weather wasn’t much better on Wednesday – windy, cold and threatening rain during the day. But after we closed up the wind began to drop and the skies cleared a little so, on the spur of the moment, we decided to give owling a try. It was a good decision as we banded 9!! [See pictures a little further down.]

Wednesday, October 25th; Banded 25:
9 Northern Saw-whet Owls
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 American Robins
1 Nashville Warbler
2 Myrtle Warblers
1 Field Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow

ET’s: 31 spp.

Thursday morning the nets were frosted shut and we were about an hour and a half late in opening. Not much you can do about that….just do the census a little earlier than usual (which turned up 27 species). There weren’t a lot of birds around in the vicinity of the nets though. Earlier in the week we had made a prediction that it woiuld be a pretty good night for owling and sent out an invitation to the public. This was a good move for owl lovers as we caught and banded another 6.

Thursday, October 26th; Banded 43:
6 Northern Saw-whet Owls

Eastern Phoebe. -KMP


1 Eastern Phoebe
3 Brown Creepers
12 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Eastern Bluebird
3 American Robins
5 Cedar Waxwings
1 White-throated Sparrow
7 Dark-eyed juncos
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 39 spp.

Today juncos and goldfinches (yes, goldfinches) made their presence known! And the most interesting goldfinches were the retraps – birds we had banded in previous years that we recaught. It’s a very curious thing but it appears that some of these older birds must travel together as we were catching them together at the same time in the same net or trap. And some of them would seem to be making Ruthven a regular stopover on their travels south (or north). One goldfinch we banded exactly a year ago and hadn’t recaught. A couple of others were much older – one going back to 2012. That one we hadn’t seen for 2 years but each time we had recaught it, it was in the same month. Uncanny. Where do these birds nest? And where do they spend the Winter. We think of them as wintering in our area, and I’m sure many do but some of “our” birds have been found as far away as Long Island, West Virginia, and one all the way down in New Orleans!! So many questions…..

Karen with Blue Jay.


It was tough this morning to choose…….where to start.


Friday, October 27th; Banded 58:
1 Brown Creeper
5 Golden-crowned Kinglets

Hermit Thrush with a single white rectrix. -KMP


2 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robins
3 Myrtle Warblers
1 Song Sparrow
9 White-throated Sparrows
20 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 House Finches
13 American Goldfinches

This American Goldfinch was banded in October 2012; it returned today (27th) after not being recaptured since 2015.


“Stumpy” – we captured and banded this Blue Jay with one leg in 2015. It is still in fine shape.


ET’s: 33 spp.

Pictures from owling nights:

Matt’s edible art depiction of an owl – note the cream cheese/blackberry eyes as it perches on a green bough of….grapes.


It’s hard not to like these little guys.


Matt and the Fotheringhams……-


The look says it all. -CHS


The fluorescent underwing of a young Saw-whet. -CHS


-CHS


William showing obvious delight; the owl….not so much. -CHS


– CHS


The return of the native – Matt Timpf returned for some owling. -CHS


Rick

October 20th-22nd – Whew!….And WOW!!

We have banded over 130 Ruby-crowned Kinglets so far. -RC


It has been a very busy few days! I was at Fern Hill Oakville on Friday morning before driving down to Windsor to take in a Steely Dan concert – fantastic!! Twelve incredible musicians in their own right combined to form one of the best bands….ever. [I had been a little skeptical when one half of the creative duo that wrote all the music – Walter Becker, the guitarist, in conjunction with Donald Fagan, the keyboardist – died in early September. But his replacement, John Harrington was outstanding.] I got to bed at 3 AM and then had to get up and open nets starting at 6:45 in preparation for Bird Festival Day. We didn’t get a ton of birds but enough to keep the 95+ visitors happy. And in the afternoon we had two exceptional speakers, Bob Montgomerie, from Queen’s, and Stu Mackenzie from BSC. And if this wasn’t enough….we did some owling Saturday night. And today? Early morning net opening and then a workshop commemorating Paschendale, with military re-enactors. So….whew! A busy time.

Just a small part of the visitors to the banding program on Saturday. -SM


But the best thing….well, one of the best things, was this note from Stu Mackenzie. After his talk, Stu went out to our Motus tower and downloaded the data that had accumulated since early July when it was erected. Wow!!

Hi Rick,
In retrospect, I wish I had downloaded the data ahead of time because I probably could have reported on this in my presentation.
Anyway, after being deployed on July 10, your station detected about 20 different tagged birds this fall. The vast majority of them were Barn Swallows, but there were 4 or 5 that were likely PUMA (identical tags that we need to sort out). Probably most interesting is a Loggerhead Shrike from Carden or Napanee that flew by on September 8. Where were you when that flew by 😉
Please pass this on to whomever you think would be interested. Soon you’ll be able to view the tracks of these bird via the website.
Cheers,
Stu

Friday, October 20th; Ruthven:
Mike breathed a sigh of relief when volunteer Karen Petrie arrived. He was starting into a Big Day and really needed her skilled help. When the dust settled they had banded 125 birds:
1 Eastern Phoebe

Brown Creeper. -SM


1 Brown Creeper
10 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
1 American Robin
60 Cedar Waxwings
7 Myrtle Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
7 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow
5 White-throated Sparrows
1 Red-winged Blackbird
2 House Finches
25 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 40 spp.

Saturday, October 21st; Ruthven:
The banding lab was very busy right from the getgo. Young Bagger, Ethan Gosnell, did a wonderful job leading the census hike turning up 34 species on a day when there didn’t seem to be much around. As well as interested visitors we had a crew of 3rd-year McMaster students who came out for some exposure to bird banding/field skills. So the more “relaxed” pace was good both for showing birds to the public and for teaching students how to handle birds, band and take morphometrics.
Banded 37:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Brown Creeper
1 House Wren
6 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
5 Hermit Thrushes
5 Myrtle Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Field Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow


1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrows
5 Dark-eyed Juncos
5 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 43 spp.
Photos:

Part of the banding crew sporting the new “look” for the station: pink T-shirts. -SM


An Old Geezer extolls the virtues of hard work to the Young Baggers. -SM


The YB’s thinking it over. -SM


#1 -SM


Saturday night Owling:
We had a big crowd (36 people) with big expectations. You know, sometimes we just don’t get any….. The first 2 net checks left us empty-handed but the 3rd produced one (big sigh of collective relief) and we got two more after that! So I think everyone was happy.

# 2&3> -SM


Killer feet and some nice bling. -SM


Sunday, October 22nd; Ruthven:
The slow pace from yesterday continued today, aided and abetted by unseasonably warm (hot?) weather and blue skies. Two of the Young Baggers had slept over in the banding lab and when they were joined by two more the boredom from the slow pace was transformed into a creative process. They explored the banding lab and discovered a hatch that lead into the “attic”. This they quickly began to transform into a sleeping loft for future stayovers. It would certainly remove the clutter of sleeping bodies on the banding lab floor and move the snoring to a better place. Of course these guys can’t seem to do anything without some hijinx:

The problem of sleeping clutter. -RC


A three-toed Sloth? Or a Bagger seeking a solution? =RC


“We’ve found it”! Our penthouse. -RC


Banded 36:
1 Northern Flicker

Male Northern Flicker


1 Blue Jay
2 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
3 American Robins
12 Cedar Waxwings
1 Myrtle Warbler
1 Northern Cardinal
2 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
2 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 37 spp.
Photos:

Kim with a flicker she’s just banded.


White-throated Sparrow -RC


Rusty Blackbirds -RC


Monarch and Painted Lady in Carol’s hummingbird garden. -RC


Yellow Sulphur butterfly. -RC

This week at Fern Hill
Hi Rick,
Wow this week as flown by. We’ve been busily banding (as you know) and on top of this the school has been working hard fundraising for both Oakville and Burlington’s hospital foundations. This means early mornings banding and late evenings hosting fundraisers. Throw in a wildly successful owling night at the Oakville campus and you have one busy, action packed, and bird filled week! I wouldn’t have it any other way.
However, this means I have some catching up to do! In Burlington Janice and I were busy on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, while you and I were slinging birds left and right on Monday, Wednesday night, and Friday morning.

In Burlington on Wednesday we observed an Estimated total if 23 species on census, and we banded 8 birds including:
2 Ruby Crowned Kinglets
1 Golden Crowned Kinglet
1 Black Capped Chickadee
1 White Throated Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 American Robin

Thursday was quite a slow day bandingwise with difficult wind conditions blowing out the nets, resulting in us having us close them periodically. We banded 2 birds:
1 Ruby Crowned Kinglet
1 Song Sparrow

However on Census we observed a total of 30 species with a MEGA visible migration of American robins (366 estimated!) Also a high number of red-winged blackbirds (271) kept my students hopping as they tried their best to count the seemingly never ending stream of birds!
Katherine

Friday morning at the Oakville campus was fairly busy. We had an interesting view of Turkey Vulture migration: we hadn’t seen any all morning and then, just before noon, a long string of over 30 birds came into view. They were drifting in from Mississauga and heading SW. Where had they come from? Had they just traversed Toronto and Mississauga? What a route that would have been!

Banded 21:
3 Downy Woodpeckers
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Song Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
12 Dark-eyed Juncos
Rick

October 19th – No Need To Overthink

Calleigh meets Saw-whet. -KAP


Sometimes we simply overthink things. We try to find explanations that are much more complicated than they need to be. Last night was a prime example. We travelled to Fern Hill’s Oakville campus to try for Northern Saw-whet Owls. We invited the school’s Young Ornithologists to come out – it didn’t take much convincing; everyone seems to love owls. Now last year we caught and banded 1 Owl. I would have been happy with that again this year. But instead we picked up 5 in the first 3 net rounds!! All at a time when the students could see and appreciate them.

Same owls……very different facial patterns. -KAP


I tried to figure out what made this such a good night. A number of variables run through one’s head: temperature, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, phase of the moon, ambient light and noise, net placements, audio lure placements. So many things to consider. But the answer was much simpler – mojo. Calleigh, a kindergarten student (but very keen bird person) was wearing her owl pyjamas (which she wouldn’t let her mother put on her earlier in the week, saving them for this special occasion) and she was carrying her special owl stuffie. Powerful mojo indeed. There you go, how could Mother Nature deny these efforts? You see….sometimes it’s a simple answer and it’s staring you right in the face.

Fern Hill Oakville’s YO’s with one of 5 Northern Saw-whet Owls we caught last night. -KAP


Walking Isabella through the banding of a Saw-whet Owl. -KAP

Meanwhile, today at Ruthven….we were fairly busy, not frenetically busy. The stiff SW winds were a big factor as they billowed many of the nets making them more visible and, when it continued to build, we decided to close somewhat early. But, we didn’t see the volume of birds that we were observing over the past few days. Another ‘pulse’ had moved through.

October 19th; Banded 66:
1 Eastern Phoebe
7 Golden-crowned Kinglets
12 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
3 Hermit Thrushes
3 American Robins
2 Cedar Waxwings
8 Myrtle Warblers
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
5 White-throated Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
20 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 37 spp.

The Green Heron seems to have made Rick’s Rill its autumn home. -D. Bridel


Standoff! Green Heron vs Black Squirrel for the right-of-way. -D. Bridel


Rick

October 16th – 18th – Catching Up.

It’s been a busy 3 days (as you’ll see below). And…..we started owl banding so things just got busier.

October 16th; Ruthven Banding Station:
It was a beautiful Fall day – cool and clear – but without a lot of bird activity.
Banded 41:
1 Mourning Dove

Lauren’s last day – celebrating with a flicker. -KMP


1 Northern Flicker

Eastern Phoebe. -LEO


1 Eastern Phoebe
1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 American Robin
8 Cedar Waxwings
1 Myrtle Warbler
5 Song Sparrows
13 White-throated Sparrows

American Goldfinches have finally arrived. This is an adult male. -ECG


6 American Goldfinches

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker. -ECG


Double-crested Cormorants heading south. -KMP


ET’s: 33 spp.

Monday (16th) Night – Owling:
Success!! Nancy and the crew got 6 Northern Saw-whets: 5 new ones and a retrap.

Dorothy and Diane…..and one of the 6 owls caught Monday night. -BF


The Northern Saw-whet Owls have arrived! -BF


Northern Saw-whet Owl. -BF


An owl with attitude. -LEO


Straight from the fresh produce section at Foodland – Samuel with an owl. -LEO


Saw-whets are cute little things….with killer feet. -LEO


Fully fluorescent = young owl. -LEO


Gaps in the fluorescence = older owl. -LEO

Fern Hill Oakville:
Monday October 16th was a busy day at Fern Hill Oakville. We tried out a new net placement in an area we had noticed birds gathering, most likely drawn by the abundance of wild grapes, buckthorn, and sumac growing. We weren’t disappointed, in all we banded 20 birds including
1 bluejay
1 black capped chickadee

Brown Creeper. -KAP


1 brown creeper
1 ruby crowned kinglet
1 hermit thrush
8 American robins

Orange-crowned Warbler. -ECG


1 orange crowned warbler

The orange crown is pretty subtle. -ECG


1 northern Cardinal
3 slate coloured juncos

We have been noticing groups of turkey vultures migrating past the school. We spotted a kettle of about 50 turkey vultures riding thermals in large numbers.

I was excited to hear and observe black capped chickadees around the property, as we seem to have lost our resident chickadees over the summer. It was a real treat to finally find a recaptured chickadee in our net, hopefully we will be seeing more as the season progresses.

2 YO’s with 2 robins. -KAP


Katherine

October 17th – Another Good Day at Ruthven!
After a short night due to owling, the big “pulse” this morning was something of a surprise…and hard work. Over 40 Cedar Waxwings were caught at one time in Net 9!!
Banded 96:

A very feisty chickadee letting you know what’s what. -LEO


1 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Golden-crowned Kinglets
15 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
2 Hermit Thrushes
56 Cedar Waxwings
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Nashville Warbler
5 Myrtle Warblers
2 Song Sparrows
4 White-throated Sparrows
2 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 41 spp

October 18th; An Even Better Day at Ruthven!!:
The first 2 net rounds this morning were huge – we ended up just “ringing and flinging” to try to keep up. (Ringing and flinging means that one just bands and then determines the age and sex of a bird and then releases it without taking any morphometric measurements – it speed things up considerably.) And then it was like someone had turned off the tap – the wheeling flocks of waxwings were gone and the sparrows, kinglets and myrtle warblers moving along the edges disappeared. The last hour and a half were very quiet – giving us a chance to catch our breath from the early morning exertions.

One very positive note: American Goldfinches are starting to show up in numbers. We banded 16 but estimated (based on banding #’s and observation/census #’s) that there were at least 55 around the site today.

Swamp Sparrow…..note the rufous “shoulders”. -ECG


Banded 120:
1 Hairy Woodpecker
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
20 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
8 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
35 Cedar Waxwings
2 Tennessee Warblers
14 Myrtle Warblers
1 Northern Cardinal
1 Field Sparrow
7 Song Sparrows
1 Lincoln’s Sparrow
8 White-throated Sparrows
2 Eastern White-crowned Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
16 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 48 spp.
Rick

October 15th – End Of A Big Pulse

A spread-eagled Rusty Blackbird. -I. Turjansky


Although hindered by a strong SW wind (which caused us to limit the number of nets we opened and to close early as it picked up even more), we still managed to band 54 birds. But you got the feeling that the big pulse of birds that we experienced over the past several days had gone by. In the previous 4 days we banded 704 birds! Not only that but the variety of birds that were simply “around” the site was greatly reduced today. Despite an intensive census and lots of observers, we still managed to pick up only 36 species. But don’t get to thinking the migration is over! There’s another big pulse or two yet to come…..I think.

Ethan trying a Jedi mind trick on this stunning adult male American Goldfinch. Ethan was unsuccessful…..he has a long way to go…. -I. Turjansky


One concern I have though is: what has happened to our American Goldfinches!? In 2012 we banded 440 in September, 623 in October, and an overall total of 1,316. The next year (2013) they ‘crashed’: we got 9, 79, 198 respectively. The population rebuilt over the next couple of years so that in the Fall of 2016 we got 65, 310, 493. And in the Spring of this year we banded an incredible 527! But this Fall we have banded only 3 in September and 18 so far in October. My sense is that they have been decimated by disease. In the Spring we noticed several birds with conjunctivitis and we know that this malady wipes out House Finch populations. As well, there has been some talk of West Nile affecting Ontario birds. At any rate, our goldfinch numbers have crashed again.

Myrtle Warblers have been moving through in good numbers. -I. Turjansky


I get a kick out of the convolutions that bird nomenclature can take (although I find it very frustrating as well). It was such a pain when Myrtle and Audubon’s Warblers got “lumped” as Yellow-rumped Warblers. I have continued to use “Myrtle” in protest (except when doing this blog – I didn’t want any confusion). But now, evidently, I can go back to using “Myrtle” again. Ethan Gosnell assures me that the “species” will be split back to the old names by the end of the year. The lumpers have become splitters…..again.

A very late Magnolia Warbler. -KMP


For Saw-whet Owl aficionados, Nancy is going to try to catch some tomorrow (Monday) night. We think it would be a nice and very useful gesture if participants/spectators made a small donation to the banding program in order to take part – the donation box is easily found……Thanks!

This Song Sparrow was originally banded in 2014! Retrap data indicate that it calls the river flats its home. -MMG


Banded 54:
15 Golden-crowned Kinglets
18 Ruby-crowned Kinglets
1 Hermit Thrush
3 Myrtle Warblers
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Field Sparrow
2 Song Sparrows
1 Swamp Sparrow

White morph White-throated Sparrow. -I. Turjansky


3 White-throated Sparrows
8 Dark-eyed Juncos

Retrapped Philadelphia Vireo wondering what ‘this’ is all about. -I. Turjansky


ET’s: 36 spp.
Rick