Sunday, 27 May 2018

Final weekend of spring bird banding at Sprucehaven

26/27 May 2018
SpruceHaven, St. Agatha, ON

26 May 2018

     We seem to have just started banding for the spring session and it is already over. Kevin was unable to come one weekend due to family commitments and we got rained out on another so the activity has been shortened a little.
     For the first time this spring Debbie Hernandez was able to make it out to the nets and we were delighted to see her again.

     Since we last saw her Debbie has graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with an Honours BSc. in biology and is now contemplating her future. Whatever it holds we hope that she will continue to come and help out at SpruceHaven.
     We banded a few new species for the season including this Mourning Warbler (Geothlypis philadelphia), a bird previously only recorded in the fall.

     It is interesting to look at the following photograph of the same bird taken from a slightly different angle. You will see that the grey throat has a much paler aspect, and in a couple of other photographs which were blurred unfortunately, it looked even whiter.

     I simply provide this comparison to illustrate the fact that a photograph can at times be misleading. Different light can portray a bird in tones quite unlike its true colours.
     This male Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)was one of two caught in the same net.

     A Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) is a delicately marked little bird, one which is often misidentified in the field by inexperienced birders, but there was no mistaking this bird in the hand.
     Heather carefully processed the bird and she and Kevin conferred on some finer points of aging and sexing.

     Kevin's tee shirt says, "I'm not normal," and I leave it up to you to judge how true this statement is! Suffice it to say, that Kevin would have been right at home as a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus, or perhaps a star performer on The Goon Show!
     Here are a couple more pictures of Lincoln's Sparrow before release.

     It is not often that we capture a Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Perhaps this species is generally too wily to be caught in a mist net.

     Without a shadow of a doubt Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is one of our most beautiful birds.

     Here you see the detail of the waxy tips on the wings from which the bird derives its name.

     It would be pretty hard to tire of waxwings.

     Curiously several of our Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) nests held a single nut (walnut?). How these nuts got there is a matter of conjecture but perhaps they represent some kind winter storage for squirrels.

     Pileated Woodpecker (Dyocopus pileatus) is a species we have seen infrequently at SpruceHaven and Kevin's friend, John Pringle, visiting from England, managed this flight shot.

All species banded 26 May: Cedar Waxwing (1), Common Starling (1), American Goldfinch (1), Common Yellowthroat (1), Mourning Warbler (1), Brown-headed Cowbird (2), Common Grackle (2), Song Sparrow (2), Lincoln's Sparrow (1). Total: 9 species, 12 birds.

27 May 2018

     It was a slow day at the nets, fittingly perhaps on our final day of banding for the spring.
     Significantly, however, we trapped two more Mourning Warblers for a total of three in two days. Since most warblers have already moved north, and this species has bred locally in past years, it leads me to believe that perhaps they are breeding at SpruceHaven.
     A Barn Swallow in our nets was the first bona fide capture, other birds having been netted in/at the barn to establish which birds had returned to their natal site. This bird had not been previously banded and was not one of the nestlings banded last year.

     A male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is not a momentous capture, given the sheer number of this species at SpruceHaven, but this male was especially handsome and robust. This is a polygynous species and it is likely that this male has a harem of females.

     Just before we wrapped it all up, Vashti Latchman and her young son, bird devotee, Roddie, arrived for their first visit of the season.

     It was good to see them both and it was too bad that we had but a single Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) to show them. We will look forward to a return visit in the fall when we hope to have many interesting birds to fuel Roddie's already burgeoning interest in all things ornithological.

All species banded 27 May: Traill's Flycatcher (1), Barn Swallow (1), Mourning Warbler (2),  Red-winged Blackbird (2), Song Sparrow (1), Northern Cardinal (1).  Total: 6 species, 8 birds.

Gotta love this one.


  1. You have some really pretty birds in Canada David, but despite all the colour in many of them, I love the Lincoln's Sparrow. Best of luck to Debbie whatever her future may be and I hope she wil be back ringing with you next spring. Have a good week Diane

    1. Hi Diane: We have shut down for the spring but will be back at it in the fall when I am sure Debbie will be joining us.

  2. I really enjoy seeing your feathered enchantments. Exotic to me, and stunningly beautiful.

    1. “Feathered enchantment” is a wonderful way to describe them.

  3. Det är otroligt vilka mönster och färger som uppenbarar sig i fåglarnas fjäderdräkt när man får se dem på nära håll, fascinerande att se.
    Och så kom en bild av den kära staren (Common Starling) som för mig alltid representerat vårens ankomst.

    Jag kan berätta att nu har de sista flyttfåglarna anlänt hit, tornseglarna (Apus Apus) som varje år häckar under takpannorna på den gamla ladugården anlände i förra veckan. Nu kommer de att förgylla vår tillvaro med sitt visslande läte ända fram till augusti när de fullgjort sitt uppdrag för denna sommar och det är dags att återvända.

    1. I am very happy to hear that all of your migrants have returned, Gunilla. I know that you will enjoy your summer so much more from having them around.

  4. Hello David!
    Great post and beautiful species of birds!
    Your pictures are so beautiful ! I like especially the Waxing and the Starling bird!
    I’m sure you had a great time from bird banding!
    Enjoy your new week!

  5. Gorgeous and so well captured one can see every feather on most of the birds - well done to the photographer.
    Always good to have new people especially young ones interested in bird life and helping out.

  6. It is so interesting to see the birds up close revealing their plumages in your photos. It is lovely to see the Cedar Waxwings - one of my favourite species although we get visits from a different species in Winter.

  7. Great birds - and, of course, the woodpecker is my favourite.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  8. Hello David, I love the gorgeous Mourning Warbler. Gorgeous closeups of all the birds being banded. The new bird devotee Roddee is cute, always nice to see young birders. Enjoy your day and new week!

  9. I am in awe of how you can capture and then hold them. They don't look like they are fluttering or trying to get away, though I'm sure they're glad to be released. What good work you are doing.

  10. Hi David.

    There are beautiful birds in between.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  11. Hi David - wonderful photos with delightful descriptions ... so we can see so many interesting specialities of each bird ... love the Lincoln's sparrow - so pretty ... life is amazing with all its complexities of colour, evolutionary attributes - love seeing your posts - cheers Hilary

  12. Thanks David for your interesting input
    but no, this is not the case where I go. At the most there will be 7 or 8 vehicles i - and only IF - there a very special scene and the guide-drivers will keep their distance.
    I know what you describe happens in Tanzania a lot and I will never go there.
    Also, an interesting development is happening:
    many african governments are realising the potential of tourism and especially photographers and are turning poachers into guards for the reserves; this is the case now in Kenya, and in Botswana they are very wary to preserve endangered species such as cheetah... Search for: "Cheetah for ever".
    I myself am getting involved with a guide-ornithologist, now a friend in Baringo (to whom I offered a camera. His knowledge about birds is such that I want him to take photos of as many species as possible and show them to children in the schools. I will be back, as I told him, and go with him beginning of next year.
    My friends Tony Crocetta and his wife Sylvie, who own the camp site on the Mara river, are very concerned too about saving the fauna by any means and ready to help me...
    I hope this answered you question....
    Keep well my friend, no need to be angry ;-)

  13. Roddie represents the hope of our future! Beautiful birds -- I think Cedar Waxwings are my favorite bird ever. That looks like a Black Walnut in the nest. (Daughter and SIL have that big beautiful old tree in their yard, so I see them on the ground when we're there.)

  14. I noticed you changed your header photo. They are attractive looking birds with their bold colours. It looks as though the one on the right is checking that everything is in order on the other's coat ;-)

  15. Hi David,
    Like I said before this banding is very valuable work. At the same time it gives you splendid opportunities to observe and admire the birds.
    Greetings, Kees

  16. To be able to see these birds with such clarity is a treat but I do like the photo of the bird in mid-flight. Freedom!

  17. Impresionante reportaje, el mirlo es una preciosidad.
    Yo quiero una de esas camisetas!!

  18. I feel like I am watching an encyclopedia on birds! I did not know that such various beautiful birds live on our planet!I enjoyed all of your birds, and it is very hard to choose the best for me,David.
    Have a wonderful day!

  19. I am always surprised at the diversity of birds you can band in one session, David. Your wonderful pictures perfectly reveal the details and texture of their plumage.

  20. i am much more of a back yard birder. i have a great recreational love for birds but i have never seen of or known of, small birds like these being banded. i assume, but i am not sure, that this is done to study their migration habits. i'm sure this is valuable work!

    the birds seem so relaxed during the banding process. these are wonderful images showing great details in these beautiful birds! i love the cedar waxwings, i have only seen them once at my back yard feeders!!

    1. It is done to help understand all aspects of their life cycle but especially to assess population trends. Many species are in steep decline as we continue to pollute the atmosphere and deprive them of habitat. Global warming is wreaking havoc with their breeding cycle, the arrival of migrants and their food sources are out of sync, permafrost is melting, pollinators are in catastrophic decline.....and so on. It is not a happy picture. Maryland has had thousand year floods in two consecutive years - and you are going to see more of that. But don’t worry, in the US you have Trump, Pruitt and Zinke to take care of you - and they know much more than any of the climate scientists.

    2. thank you for your kind reply. i don't know if the last part of your comment is sarcastic or not. i am simple minded when it comes to politics, and have little knowledge about trump!

    3. Hi Debbie: it was indeed sarcastic. But the entire world is dismayed at the way the Trump regime is systematically dismantling every environmental gain made over the last thirty years and it is truly scary to hear the rhetoric of the climate change deniers he has put in charge of vital environmental agencies.

    4. thanks david, i guess i should know that. i don't enjoy politics, i try to fill my life and time with topics i enjoy. with that said, i should probably know this, and it saddens me to hear it!!!

  21. Hi David,
    the banding gives you a good opportunity to make pictures of interesting details.
    You managed a wonderful serie of these beautiful birds.

    best regards, Corrie

  22. Fabulous banding, or ringing as we would say here.

  23. It never ceases to amaze me that the birds do seem relaxed during the banding process.
    You've shared some lovely photographs again, always so lovely to see.

    Enjoy these last few days of May.

    All the best Jan

  24. How wonderful to be able to hold any one of those beauties in your hand. Cedar waxwings are exquisite, there is no other word for their coloration. I helped with lots of bird banding in my college years but the only birds I've been able to touch recently are the ones who find their way into the sunroom and must be caught and released back outside. Wrens are the usual culprits.

  25. Bonjour,

    Vous nous faites partager des moments intenses... vos photos sont toujours aussi fascinantes.
    Une très touchante publication.

    Gros bisous 🌸

  26. It's interesting to see the difference in the throat colour on the Warbler in just a couple of photos! I never tire of seeing Waxwings, we don't get them often enough here.

  27. Exactly my thought when I read that you are coming to the end of spring banding. Such a short season you have. But many thanks for those lovely images of my fave, the Red-winged Blackbird, not forgetting those detailed shots of the waxwing.

    Sue says I should get one of those T shirts but I simply don't know what she means.

    Have to agree. Too many sky fairies. If only everyone could use their brains, highly developed over many millions of years.

    1. Tell Sue that everyone else knows exactly what she means!

  28. How wonderful to be able to hold the beautiful birds in your hands and to study them closely!

  29. When people smile, the work is positive.

  30. Hi David,
    Another interesting post on your banding sessions, such a shame it was shortened by a mixture of weather and missing members of the group.
    Some great images, what with the Red-winged Blackbird and the Waxwing [this year I saw not a one after last years invasion}.
    Also nice to see a youngster coming along.
    All the best to you both, John

    1. One member is critical, John. Kevin holds the bander’s permit. Without him present we cannot do anything.

  31. Estou encantada com a beleza dos pássaros que partilhou aqui.
    Maravilhosos, David!

    Um abraço.