As recently mentioned Miriam and I regularly check in with our bird banding friends to see which species they have been capturing in their mist nets.
On Sunday they were able to show us a couple of real oddities. Firstly a Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater laid an egg in the bag used to carry her back from the mist net to the banding table.
A Brown-headed Cowbird is an obligate brood parasite and it seems clear that this individual was exactly ready to deposit her egg in the nest of a host species at the moment of capture, and since the egg was ready for expulsion from the cloacal orifice it had no choice but to expel it.
The second unusual event is perhaps even more intriguing. The picture below shows the rectrices of a male American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla.
Curiously the left side of the tail shows the colour normally associated with a male, the right side the yellow tinge of a female.
For the banders, Kevin Grundy and Ross Dickson, both of whom have a long record of bird banding, it was the first time they had been presented with this kind of anomaly.
A couple of days earlier on a walk through RIM Park, we were treated to a splendid day along the Grand River.
American Goldfinches Spinus tristis were busy gathering nesting material.
A House Wren Troglodytes aedon was singing incessantly from a high perch.
Wild Columbines Aquilegia canadensis were blooming in the woodlands.
It was fortunate that this Willow Flycatcher Empidonax trailli was singing.
Without hearing its vocalizations it is impossible to distinguish this species from the basically identical Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum.