Worm-eating Warbler

It was another memorable Spring Song Festival on Pelee Island last weekend and hundreds of bird and book enthusiasts were here to revel in the enduring enchantment of Spring migration. The community was graced with the presence of guest speaker Brian Brett - who read from his award winning book Trauma Farm - and his partner Sharon, as well as guest birders Robert and Birgit Bateman, along with a surprise visit from Stewart McLean and Vinyl Café producer Jess Milton.

It was an active time for birds from May 1st - 10th with lots of new arrivals and many interesting sightings. Thirty-five spring 'firsts' were recorded during PIBO's official count period including a variety of familiar species such as Black-bellied Plover and Wood Thrush (1st), Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo and Ovenbird (2nd), Black-billed Cuckoo and Northern Mockingbird (3rd), Northern Parula, American Redstart and Cape May Warbler (4th & 5th), Eastern Wood-Pewee and Lincoln's Sparrow (6th), Sanderling and Dunlin (7th), and Great-crested Flycatcher and Orange-crowned Warbler on May 9th & 10th.

Five days of south and southwest winds and mild temperatures from May 1st - 5th produced a steady stream of migrants despite some rainy days on the 2nd and 3rd, including the season's first White-eyed Vireo and Hooded Warbler on May 2nd, a pair of Willets, a Worm-eating Warbler (banded), another Hooded Warbler (banded) on the 3rd, and a Golden-winged Warbler recorded on the census on May 10th. Species diversity picked up noticeably on May 6th when 63 species were tallied during the count period including thirteen warbler spp., along with increased numbers of Wood and Swainson's Thrushes. More rain and some north winds on the 7th were followed by gale-force winds the next day, which made for a somewhat quieter day, although a station-high 400 swallow spp. were observed on census on May 8th feeding out of the wind on Fox Pond and on the east side of the point. The majority of birds were Tree and Barn Swallows, although all five swallow species were recorded.

Activity picked up again on the 9th when sixty-six species were documented during the standard count period including 19 warbler species. Nashville, Yellow, and Yellow-rumped Warblers were numerous along with smaller numbers of Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, and Black-and-white Warblers, among others. Flycatchers and vireos were also more active along with a nice variety of other May migrants including Veery, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting.

A number of unusual species were noted on the island by a small but determined group of visiting birders including a female Blue Grosbeak discovered at Sheridan Point on May 8th, a Dickcissel recorded flying south off the tip (8th), an adult Laughing Gull, also at the tip (9th), a Kentucky Warbler at Middle Point Woods, along with at least three Summer Tanagers.

PIBO's next summary will be posted on May 22nd.

Photo: Sumiko Onishi