Migration Update: May 4-6, 2009

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Golden-winged Warbler- May 4, 2009

Spring migration along Canoe Lake Road continues to impress as new species arrive from the south with each passing day. Highlights of the census on May 4th include a Sora calling from one of the small wetlands along the roadside and the remarkably late first appearance of Hermit Thrush for the survey route this spring. Hermit Thrushes are now on territory and can be heard regularly, particularly along conifer-bearing shorelines of lakes in the area. There are few sounds in nature more haunting than the ethereal song of a Hermit Thrush on a calm spring or summer evening. Their vocalizations are uniquely complex amongst the songbirds as they, and other thrush species, possess the equivalent of two sets of vocal chords, which enables them to intertwine two songs at the same time. Donald Kroodsma, the heavily recognized authority on avian vocalization, has done some fascinating work on thrushes, a sample of which you can listen to in this clip from NPR’s Fresh Air program. The male Golden-winged Warbler pictured above has been recorded actively singing from the same “spot” since May 2 and appears to be setting up a territory for the summer. This species was recently listed by COSEWIC as threatened. The Frontenac Axis is a core breeding zone for this species in Ontario.

On May 6 a total of 36 species were tallied, which included season firsts of Wood Thrush, Savannah Sparrow and a pair of lingering Ring-necked Ducks. White-throated Sparrows and kinglets continue to elude our eyes and ears during the surveys, although a couple of White-throats and Ruby-crowns were observed on the 6th. There are roughly four weeks remaining in this year’s spring migration and the majority of local breeding species have yet to arrive. The Spring Migration Census program will continue on a semi-daily basis until May 31st when our core program, Frontenac Breeding Birds, will kick off.

Spring Species Total: 77
Average # individuals/census: 149
Average # species/census: 32

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