It is on! Spring 2021 migration monitoring has begun.
As I type these words, a windstorm is raging outside with the frequent snow squalls, as befits a typical late April day. It is as good a time as any to write the first blog of the season, that is, if my cold-stiffened fingers let me!
Monitoring began as it should on April 15, with all 15 nets open by yours truly, since I was by myself for a few days before the first volunteer of the season arrived on Saturday, April 17. That first day was cold and overcast but windless, with nets opened at 6:00am, 30 minutes before sunrise. Compared to early April, when temperatures soared to 20C and birds were actively migrating in droves, it appeared very quiet. At least, in the early hours: only 4 birds were captured from opening to the 9:30 net check. Perfect! I thought: it is good to ease back gently into the job. I spoke too soon since there was an avalanche of captures in the last 2 hours, with a total of 116 birds being banded during this short time! Both species of kinglets were the guests of honour, of course, but the 21 Dark-eyed Juncos made a strong showing too. The first Hermit Thrush and Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers of the season were also among the banded birds. I arrived quite early this year at the station, taking advantage of a complete lack of snow and warm weather so I got to see some species before the official opening date including the first Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers on April 10.
The following days were not as busy, banding-wise, with daily totals ranging from 6 to 20 birds when nets could be opened. The return of birds in spring is always an exciting time, bringing FOY joy (first-of-year): 39 species were detected on the first day, April 15. Noteworthy FOY sightings afterwards were (in taxonomic order): two adult Broad-winged Hawks on April 19 over West Bluff; Killdeer and Greater Yellowlegs both on April 19; eastern Bluebird on April 18 (though it was first detected on April 10); a Fox Sparrow banded on April 18; and one lonesome but joyfully singing little yellow jazzbird, an American Goldfinch, on April 17.
We are poised to welcome and record many, many more new arrivals, with eager eyes and ever alert ears, celebrating the spring renewal.
Happy Earth Day!