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Migration Summary April 24th-May 15, 2018

April 24th saw our first standard count American White Pelican; there were two seen on the census. We observed our first Chimney Swifts on April 25th. On the 27th, a single Horned Lark landed nearby on the beach giving us great views! Throughout the end of April, we consistently saw Rusty Blackbirds in the netting area. The last few days of April were notably quiet.

May 1st we had seven new species for the spring migration monitoring season including Nashville, Yellow, Palm, Black-throated Green and Black-and-white Warblers. Baltimore Orioles were back too! We had twelve more new species the next day as well including Wood Thrush, Chestnut-sided Warblers and Ovenbirds. May 3rd had an impressive influx of Yellow-rumped Warblers, among them, were a few Palm, Nashville, and Chestnut-sided Warblers as well.  We banded a Blue-winged Warbler and a Blue-headed Vireo on May 4th. 

The bird activity had a lull for a couple of days with fewer species in general and few numbers of most species. Red-winged Blackbirds have had a substantial presence lately, and they were unfazed by the winds. We did enjoy frequent sightings of a solitary sandpiper along the trail to the station during this time.

On May 7th, we had no new species for the spring but did have a total of 62 species including 11 warbler species (observed during the official count period). May 8th brought us an indigo bunting and an Orange-crowned Warbler. South winds on the 9th brought many birds including six new species for the spring count including the banding of a Lincoln’s Sparrow. The banding area remained busy with many species observed on the 10th as well.

On May 11th, the bird activity had dropped dramatically; even the Red-winged Blackbirds were more notably quiet. Then started some miserable, rainy weather that continued for about 24 hours. The rain almost perfectly coincided with the entire Botham Cup Bird Race. Luckily for the nine teams of weather-hardened competitors, the sun came out for the last couple of hours of the race. We had 80 species for the migration count period, and the Botham Cup Bird Race tallied a combined total of 153 species in 24 hours! Congratulations to all who competed!

After the Springsong Weekend, the rain continued a bit keeping us from opening the nets on the 13th and cut things short on the 14th as well. Despite this, we continue to see a good showing of warbler species including our first Wilson’s Warbler on the 14th. More rain delayed the start of netting on the 15th as well. The netting area remains flooded, and rubber boots are necessary to visit the banding station. 
 
Bay-breasted Warbler by Sumiko Onishi 2018.
PIBO has started uploading our census data to eBird. As the census takes place at Fish Point Nature Preserve, all data are reported to that “hotspot” and can be viewed here: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L761132  

Sumiko with volunteers Heather and Sabrina, explaining the field marks of a Blue-winged Warbler. Photo by Patrick Kramer 2018.

Sumiko Onishi's 2018 Great Canadian Birdathon

"After a very busy weekend, on May 13th my friend suggested the next day was an ideal time to do my birdathon based on the radar showing a big movement of migratory birds. I looked at the weather forecast and the timing of precipitation and decided to start at 5:30 a.m. on May 15th.
The first bird I heard was a Song Sparrow which was nesting in our backyard. I started recording bird species along Stone Road, on which I have done breeding bird surveys for many years. It was very fun to hear the chorus of birds and the slow crescendo around the alvar where numerous Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes were in the morning. From 6 to 10 a.m. I was at the banding station and kept busy banding with my co-worker. We had to open and close the nets due to on and off rain which didn’t give us much time to focus on observation, although we noticed there were lots of different species singing. We decided to close the nets around 10 a.m. and I kept counting birds at Fish Point. At the west beach there was a Northern Mockingbird dancing (shrugging his shoulders!), but not many waterfowl except lots of Red-breasted Mergansers. Next, I went to check the north side. A White-eyed Vireo along the road to the lighthouse point trail was nice to see. Unfortunately, I didn’t see many raptors except Cooper’s Hawk calling at red cedar trail - Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawks were not observed on the day.
After I recorded 90 species it became more challenge to get additional species in the late afternoon. I took my bicycle along Stone road and the East-west road again. On the way, I had a chance to chat with a couple of people who were curious about what I was doing. They cheered me up! Before sunset, I went to the field on Henderson to count shorebirds. There were yellowlegs, plovers, Least Sandpipers, and Dunlins. It was very nice to see the shorebirds fluttering and quickly turning in in the air.
Toward the end of daytime birding, I heard my friend saw a Harris’s Sparrow. So, I visited him and had a chance to see the big sparrow for the first time in my life! Although it wasn’t quite as exciting as I expected. Maybe because I was already told which species was there compared to identifying species one by one on my own. Anyway, it was very nice to add one totally new species for me on my count. After sunset I took my bicycle to Stone Road twice and heard a couple of Eastern Screech Owls, but not Great Horned Owl. Next morning at 4:30 a.m I took my bicycle one more time and went along Stone Road to East-West Road in pitch dark. On the way back home when the sky became slightly light – birds were slowly waking up and starting to sing – there were two Great Horned Owls calling! This was the end of my birdathon!!
I would like to say a big thanks to Graeme who came out to share my birding, my co-workers Patrick and Connor who lent me a scope and came out to see some shorebirds, some islanders and visitors who stopped by and cheered me up, my friend Rob who gave me good advice to choose the day and showed me a new species, and Paul Jones who kindly sponsored my birdathon and donated a hundred dollars prior to the day with the expectation that I would record at least 100 species. I recorded a total of 116 species!!"

Marsh Wren by Sumiko Onishi 2018 
Donate to Sumiko's fundraising page for the Great Canadian birdathon
This year PIBO once again participated in The Pelee Island Heritage Centre's Springsong event. Three staff members plus our summer student were present at the dinner.  Our founder, Graeme Gibson, the younger, tallied up the final results for the Botham Cup Bird Race. Congratulations to the winning team.

This spring, PIBO was awarded a small grant through the Baillie Fund.  The money will be spent on improving existing Purple Martin houses on Pelee Island and with helping Martin "landlords" better manage their colonies. The photo is of PIBO's new gourd rack system donated by James R. Hill III of Bird Abodes in Edinboro PA. Photo by Patrick Kramer 2018.

Our summer student, Connor Hawey, looks mighty pleased with our new Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes! Thanks to Jody Allair at Long Point Bird Observatory for donating five of them to PIBO. We are more than happy to entice PROWS to nest in our area. Photo by Patrick Kramer 2018.
Our Education Coordinator recently visited Talbot Trail School to talk about Project Nest Box and to oversee the construction of two new nest boxes for their school. 
Nest boxes are provided free of charge by CleanRiver Recycling Solutions. Photos are by Sarah Keating 2018.
On April 25th, PIBO hosted the first annual Wild Bird Ball at the Crow's Theater in Toronto. Most of the Board of Directors were in attendance as well as staff members Patrick, Sarah and Suzanne. 
It was a fantastic fundraising event, culminated by the voices of John Alcorn and Molly Johnson! A special thank you to Sandy Bourque for organizing the event . Photos are by George Pimentel 2018. 
On May 9 PIBO held its 6th annual fundraising dinner at Beach Grove Golf and Country Club in Windsor. This year our honoured author was Madeleine Thien. It was a very successful and entertaining evening and the "dynamic duo" Peter and Paul, brought the live auction to new heights! A big thank you to Margaret, Madeleine, Merilyn, Peter, Paul, Lynn and Jan for such a great night. 
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