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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Migration Census- 24/04/2009

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Round-lobed Hepatica

Results (first of season species in bold)

Canada Goose 7
Ruffed Grouse 1
Common Loon 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Ring-billed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 4
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 4
Blue Jay 9
American Crow 1
Horned Lark 1
Tree Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
American Robin 10
European Starling 6
American Tree Sparrow 1
Chipping Sparrow 4
Song Sparrow 17
Swamp Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 7
Red-winged Blackbird 14
Common Grackle 25
Purple Finch 2
Pine Siskin 8
American Goldfinch 13

Season Species Total=47

Migration Census- 20/04/2009

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Blue Jay (detail)

Conditions during this morning’s census were mild with overcast skies and a light easterly wind. The absence of south winds has prevented many migrants from reaching the area. A significant warm front is due this week (following three days of rain), which should bring the next wave of migrants along with it. Four season firsts were detected this morning along with many of the local resident/breeding species. New species for the 2009 Spring Migration Census included Cooper’s Hawk (1), Ruffed Grouse (1), Herring Gull (1) and White-throated Sparrow (2). In total, a respectable 34 species were tallied during the survey, which brings the season total of species recorded to 40.

The last two weeks have been very busy for us as we work on finalizing our plans for the upcoming breeding season. Things are certainly shaping up but we still have lots of work ahead of us. We will be updating the blog with more breeding bird updates, articles and video content in the coming weeks. Also note that FBS is now on Twitter (see sidebar for latest updates from the field)!

Results (first of season species in bold)

Canada Goose    27
Ruffed Grouse    1
Common Loon    1
Turkey Vulture    1
Cooper’s Hawk    1
Red-shouldered Hawk    2
Ring-billed Gull    3
Herring Gull    1
Mourning Dove    2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker    2
Downy Woodpecker    1
Hairy Woodpecker    2
Northern Flicker    1
Pileated Woodpecker    2
Eastern Phoebe    2
Blue Jay    4
American Crow    6
Black-capped Chickadee    7
Red-breasted Nuthatch    1
Brown Creeper    1
Golden-crowned Kinglet    3
American Robin    7
European Starling    4
American Tree Sparrow    1
Chipping Sparrow    2
Song Sparrow    3
White-throated Sparrow    2
Dark-eyed Junco    1
Red-winged Blackbird    18
Common Grackle    29
Brown-headed Cowbird    3
Purple Finch    1
Pine Siskin    4
American Goldfinch    4

Season Species Count: 44