Posted | filed under Weekly Reports.

Fall migration is definitely still in full-swing; we were a little worried that things were winding down after a slow start to the week, but the last few days have been the busiest we’ve had all season. Many species have been building in numbers and are just starting to peak, like myrtle warblers, but some are actually experiencing a resurgence. We thought that Canada warblers, black-and-white warblers and American redstart were done for the season, but they have begun moving through again in almost as good of numbers as they originally came through in. This could be a result of the fires up north as I mentioned in my last article. Most bird species were late arriving in the spring because of southern snow storms so we expected fall migration to also be late; it wasn’t though, at least it didn’t seem to be. It is possible that what we thought was on-time migration a few weeks ago was just all the birds forced to migrate early to escape fire, and what we are seeing now is the birds that weren’t driven from their nesting grounds early and are in-fact moving late as we expected. One species in particular is migrating in huge numbers and that is the Tennessee warbler. It is great to be seeing so many Tennessee warblers. They are specialist feeders that target spruce bud worms. As a result of being so specific in their food preferences their populations fluctuate widely following the outbreaks and crashes of bud worms. When I first moved up to Slave Lake, Tennessee warblers were one of the most plentiful birds around. The next year, they were around, but not very common. Then they all but disappeared for the next four years. This year they have returned with a vengeance. Their songs filled the forest all summer and now we are seeing literally hundreds of them moving over the lab every single morning. Besides the great birding, there has been another highlight this week. For the second year in a row, Myles Grieve is out volunteering for us. Myles holds the undisputed title of youngest volunteer and most loyal fan we have ever had. His parents have been bringing him up to the lab every year since he was around 6 years old and when he turned 12 last year he was thrilled to be able to officially volunteer for us. This year he is back for an entire week; he comes out early and dutifully spends the whole day with us, all but exploding with excitement the entire time. It is always our pleasure to have Myles at the lab. He restores a lot of my faith in the next generation: he is keen, eager, frighteningly intelligent (hanging out with him is like hanging out with a full set of encyclopaedias), and overall a great kid. This year, now that he is a little older, we are really trying to give him a more hands-on experience. We’ve got him scribing for us and we are training him to handle birds and age and sex them. He is a good reminder that it is never too late, and certainly never too early to volunteer at something you love.