“Song bird season has truly begun” JBD 27May2024

Wrote JBD recently (May 27), with photos and videos attached…

Click on images for larger versions

Yellow-rumped Warbler on Apr, 24, 2024 in the Shaw Wilderness Park

“It has been such a pleasure to watch the return of warblers to the Backlands! The first warbler I crossed paths with in the Backlands this year was a Yellow-rumped Warbler (April 20), heard but not seen, working his way along the upper McIntosh Run. A couple of days later I had my first good look at a bright Yellow-rumped Warbler, fresh from the south, flitting about in the hobblebush that grow on the bank of Lawsons Brook in the Shaw Wilderness Park.

“Interestingly, Yellow-rumped Warblers are one of the few warbler species that can be found here in the winter (Pine Warblers, also). They are able to digest wax coated fruit of bayberry bush, one of the only bird that can. In the winter a few intrepid Yellow-rumped warblers can often be found in places where there are large patches of Northern bayberries growing, usually along the coast.

“Then the Palm Warblers start show up. I feel like the song bird season has truly begun. Perhaps it has something to do with its name which speaks so well to the extraordinary double lives these birds live, spending half the year in the forests of Central and South America and on tropical isles and then flying thousands of miles to nest in our backyards and feast on northern black flies and mosquitoes.

Video: Palm Warbler near the Colpitt Lake Look-off on Apr 24, 2024

“A Palm warbler showed up at East Pine Island Pond on May 24th. Within a few days they were popping up all over the Backlands.

“Since then there has been a steady flow of returning species, the Black &White Warblers, then The Black-throated Greens, the Northern Parulas, Common YellowThroats, Chestnut-sided Warblers, American Redstarts, and the Yellow Warblers.

Wilson’s Warbler on May 18, 2024


“A highlight (May 18) was a appearance of bright male Wilson’s Warbler at the large pool on The Mc Run at Princeton Ave.

“It reminded me of the first warbler I saw this spring, the Hooded Warbler at Sandy Cove … equally as striking with such a contrast between bright yellow and jet black.


“In the past week, Magnolia Warblers have sprung up along the Orange Jelly Trail, Blue-headed Vireos here and there along the upper McIntosh Run, and Red-eyed Vireos around Colpitt Lake.

Left: Blue-headed_Vireo on May 23, 2024 on the Orange Jelly Trail. Right: Red-eyed_Vireo on May 24, 2024 Colpitt_Lake area)

Osprey’s Nest on Apr 30, 2024, on the “Fire-School” Property

“So nesting season is in full swing.

“I had been noticing Osprey patrolling East Pine Island Pond. I had assumed they were coming in to search for fish from the Spryfield side where there are three active Osprey’s nests, but they always flew in from the east and left in that direction.

“As it turns out there is a fourth nest, hiding in plain site (from me anyway) atop a light post on the front lawn of the Fire School … not in the Backlands but just the other side of John Brackett Drive.

The Makeshift Bridge on May 18, 2024

“Just over a week ago (May 18) I walked out the old Fisherman’s Road (often called the Military Road) continuing beyond the Look-off (from which I like to watch the sun rise) down into the valley through which the lower McIntosh Run flows.

“Where the trail (road) reaches the Run there had been, until it washed out last fall, a makeshift bridge. With water levels as low as they are, however, it was pretty easy to cross on the exposed rocks (stepping stones).

“On the far side I was immediately met by a pair of Dark-eyed Junco’s, male and female, both with their bills brimming with insects. The male coming very close, within a few feet, and then flitting away a few yards up the trail as if to draw me away, to follow him. At the same time the female took to the ground, rounded a tree trunk, and disappeared. A moment later she popped up again, her bill empty … nesting a mere couple of yards from the trail!

Male and Female Juncos on May 18, 2024 at the bridge crossing. Male with insects; the female was observed moments earlier with her bill full of insects; she had taken to the ground, evidently to feed fledglings in her nest, just before she popped up again, bill empty. (Juncos are ground nesters).

“Early Friday morning I took a walk down to the outlet at Colpitt Lake and down through the corridor toward Williams Lake to stand in the sunlight reflected by the towering yellow birch and think about how fortunate we are that this land will soon be part of Shaw Wilderness.

“A few metres in from the entrance to the trail down to Colpitt, I was met by the sounds a pair of irate Hairy Woodpeckers nesting in a red maple tree cavity again, right on the edge of the trail.

Hairy Woodpecker on May 24, 2024

“Fulton and I visited the spot briefly yesterday and could hear the young calling incessantly. Fulton thinks the young are on the verge of fledging, sometime in the next couple of days. ‘So pleased to see a species associated with old (mature) forest nesting in that area (there are already a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers nesting in the forest between the Pine Island Ponds).

Wonderful Days!

Joshua Barss Donham

And wonderful reporting, JBD, Thx so much for sharing.

Posted by David P for JBD/The Bird Team
May 29, 2024

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