Stéphane’s Posting for Oct. 04/10

The First, the Last, and the Odd!

Today was incredibly sunny, with a deep blue sky, and moderate north wind. It was also relatively quiet at the nets while we were expecting more activity. Nonetheless, every day counts at a migration monitoring station. And sure enough, we got some surprises in our nets.

The first one was the first individual of a late migrant species, the American Tree Sparrow. A very elegant sparrow, it was certainly freshly arrived from its northern treeline, where tundra gradually takes over.

Surprisingly, we also caught a dweller of broadleaf forest, an early long-distance migrant, which should be almost at its wintering grounds in Cuba: it was a young female Black-throated Blue Warbler, maybe the last one of this species for the season (and the year then!).

And the odd, the unusual, the surprise that everybody wishes but no one dares say aloud. In migration time almost everything can turn up. This fall, it is a young male HOODED WARBLER! A striking yellow and black songbird, it is the first Hooded Warbler ever banded in the fall at Cabot Head. Both in May of 2000 and 2002 was a young (“second-year”) male banded. This species has been increasing in Ontario, according to the Breeding Bird Atlas, but it is still a rare sight on the Bruce Peninsula, and more specifically, at Cabot Head. The young male captured this morning was stunning, but also fatty: it had a good level of sub-cutanous fat and with it and good luck, we hope it will make it to its wintering grounds, somewhere in Central America!