Thursday, September 30, 2010

Name that Bird!

Female Black Poll Warbler, Young Red-eyed Vireo
Young Wood Peewee, Blue headed Vireo

It is often difficult to identify a bird seen briefly in a leafy bush or treetop. This is especially true in the fall when many adult birds are molting and juveniles are seen in greater numbers. The set of pictures above shows four birds with similar colouring, but when seen up close, their differences are apparent. I am not skilled enough to differentiate many fall birds and I can name these only because I took notes at the banding station.

Male Magnolia Warbler, Gray Cheeked Thrush
Nashville Warbler, Female Magnolia Warbler (I think!!)

Other birds were more distinctive but are not commonly seen due to their secretive nature. Once again, these birds were new to me but they are appearing regularly at Ruthven Park during fall migration. They are also hiding in my region which is just an hour or so to the north.

It was nice to hold an unmistakeably familiar bird in my hand and this Slate-coloured Junco was calm and poised as I took its picture. They are just starting to arrive for their winter stay and will be at our feeders until spring.

I saw a fairly small snapping turtle near the river. Ruthven Park also had a hibernaculum which is a large pit, 3 metres deep, which extends below the frost line. It is filled with discarded construction concrete and is designed to attract snakes during the winter. I actually tiptoed up to the edge of it sincerely hoping there were no snakes lolling around.

Much as I enjoy my job, I would prefer to spend September and October volunteering at this banding station. Fall really is my favourite time of year and spending each morning outdoors would be very appealing, especially when there is so much to see and learn.

New birds seen on September 24 and 27:

Gray-cheeked Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler

A total of 33 different species were banded.


  1. They could all be cousins by my eye.

    How wonderful to be at the banding and see, plus hold, these magical examples of flight. Yea, sometimes work just gets in the way. ;)

  2. I'd love to be there period! What fun that must have been Ruth.

  3. WOW...I'm sure you seen at least 2 or 3 of these "new" birds before and just didn't know it. It's like you said; it's hard to identify from a tree top with them fluttering around. And besides they all look alike.

    Such a great experience...I wonder if you will go back next year hhhmmm? I'm proud of you getting close to the snake are much braver then I.

  4. I always love your banding posts. How thrilling it must be! I don't think I would walk anywhere near the snake pit though.

  5. Sounds like a great time.

  6. The vireo looks like s/he's laughing.

  7. I don't know many birds by name, but I enjoy learning from your photos.

  8. I love the banding posts too..Great post.

  9. Anonymous9:34 am GMT-4

    I'm glad you enjoyed the banding - isn't it a unique and marvelous experience?


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