In Cypress Hills we have three MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) stations. The first, Rodeo Grounds, is a wet area riddled with fallen trees, long grasses and willows bordering on a cow paddock. There is a lot of standing water, perfect for mosquitoes, and lots of dense understory. The second, Old Baldy, is a dry area on the edge of a forest near a campground. The forest, a mix of high spruce and deciduous canopy with little understory, is edged with low hawthorn shrubs on a grassy hill, the shrubs act as a corridor for the birds. The third, Spruce Coulee, is our highest elevation site in a forested area with medium and high mixed conifer and deciduous canopy. In the centre of the site there is a grassy field used for grazing with low rose and hawthorn shrubs. All the sites have distinct edge habitat, perfect for young birds.
This week Rodeo Grounds was teeming with bird songs. Among the most vocal were Veerys, American Redstarts, Warbling Vireos and Common Yellowthroats. We have three confirmed breeders at the site so far: American Robins, Veerys, and Tree Swallows. An American Robin and a Veery were both seen carrying nest material and we found an active tree swallow nest nearby. There was also a pair on Wilson’s Snipes that must have a nest near the banding station as the duo winnowed overhead and called from the nearby fence posts all morning.
Old Baldy was a quieter site this week although Black-Headed Grosbeaks, Yellow Warblers and Grey Catbirds were singing continuously. We caught two Dusky Flycatchers, neither showed breeding characteristics; the Least Flycatchers that we were catching at the spring migration station were showing broods and had been ‘singing’ for close to a month. It’s interesting that the Duskys are so far behind. We were also fortunate enough to catch a female Orange-Crowned Warbler with a heavy brood who was carrying eggs. We hadn’t seen many at the spring migration station since most passed through CHIP in mid-May, so we were delighted.
Our final site, Spruce Coulee, was our busiest this period with over 50 captures and 17 species. One of which included the Chestnut-Sided Warbler featured in the picture above. He was the first caught this season and a treat. We also caught a plethora of Eastern White-Crowned Sparrows, all of which showed breeding characteristics and most females were carrying eggs. Other potential breeders: Least Flycatchers, Grey Catbirds, Veerys, American Restarts and Yellow Warblers. Though we caught Cedar Waxwings, they did not show any breeding characteristics and were not carrying fat, perhaps they’re waiting for the berries. We also had a Mountain Bluebird singing in the coulee near one of our nets – hopefully next period!
Overall a great start to MAPS with a couple of new species and some extraordinary new sites.