Posted | filed under Weekly Reports.

It is hard to believe that fall migration monitoring will be starting in just a couple of days. Normally I say that solely for the benefit of readers who can not believe that birds would already be thinking of heading south, but this year, that is how I feel. Our summer period seems to have gone by way too quick and I am enjoying having days off way too much! Without the extra Canada warbler project this year, we have been a little spoiled and have gotten two lengthy stretches of days off to make up for the heavy workload and near-total lack of time-off during spring and fall migration. I think it is almost harder to have long vacations than none at all; it is far too easy to settle into the routine of rest and relaxation. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, and really, it’s not like I don’t have one of the best jobs to be going back to. Now instead of leisure birding, I go back to professional birding. Fall migration is the busiest time of the year for us. We have to run the station every day until the end of September and we also still have three more MAPS rounds to do which overlap with migration days. Essentially this means for four days out of every ten the two of us will be trying to operate 24 nets instead of 14 until we finish off MAPS; if MAPS remains as busy as it has been, we could run into some crazy busy days. Fall migration is also the start of our busy tourist season. We get lots of drop-in visitors and twice a week an educator from the Boreal Centre is out giving public tours. The tours are on Wednesdays and Saturdays and we strongly recommend visiting during tours as opposed to dropping-in; if we are very busy we may not have the time to provide as much information as the educator is able to. Although the birds are going to start trickling away, rest assured that there will still be plenty flitting around for the next couple months if you are so inclined to watch and listen for them. Fall migration tends to be a great time to watch birds since they spend a lot of time foraging to bulk up for the long trip ahead of them. Sparrows will make good use of bird feeders and warblers and other migrants can be found chipping in the shrubs and undergrowth searching for insects. Birds tend to move along slowly while they forage providing birders with ample opportunity to observe and enjoy them. This added observation time is very beneficial for identifying them. In the fall, male and female warblers lose their colourful breeding plumages and end up looking very similar to one another. Not only do the males start looking like the females, but many species also look similar to other species when they are in their basic winter plumages. Young sparrows are especially difficult to differentiate from each other; most people have a hard time with the subtlety of adult sparrow plumage, let alone the duller, streakier version the juvenile’s present.