Good day WPC blog followers!
Greetings from the Napanee Shrike Team. The Napanee area shrikes are back and courtship is underway. Female shrikes have been busy performing begging calls this week, and the males have been responding with tireless courtship feeding. Tips from bird enthusiasts and landowners have kept us busy on the road, monitoring shrike activity and potential habitat. So far we’ve found 4 pairs, 1 spare (associated with a pair), 2 singles on sites active last year that we hope may turn into pairs, and 2 mystery birds we suspect may have been Northern Shrikes migrating through. The early return of Loggerheads this year has created an unusual amount of overlap between the ranges of the two species – normally, most Northerns would have left their wintering ranges before the Loggerhead return to those areas for breeding.
The shrikes have been very cooperative with the Napanee Team this year, allowing us glimpses of their legs and feet as we set up our scopes. We have identified most of the birds as banded returnees, including a female banded in 2008 and a captive bred bird released from Carden or Dyer’s Bay in 2006! This is the first return of a captive bred shrike in the Napanee area. Captive bred birds were only banded with one colour band and a stainless steel band prior to 2009, so we only know that she is captive bred, but we don’t know from where – we hope to trap her after she has hatched nestlings and determine where she originated from. She has paired with a wild mate but as of yet have not started nest building. In 2008, shrikes were banded with only a single stainless steel band – we also hope to retrap this and discover her origin later this summer. The presence birds that have bred for several seasons is encouraging, but the lack of unbanded, and possibly Second Year birds (i.e. in their first breeding season) is not.
As always, the shrikes are showing very interesting distribution, reusing sites that were used in previous years, but not necessary by the same birds! We are also continuing to see “clumping”, where different shrike pairs, spares or singles are found near to other shrikes. This community effect may facilitate the ‘sharing’ of social information such as breeding success, which may explain the high site re-use rates by different birds between seasons.
Other interesting species we’ve seen present at active shrike sites include, but are not limited to:
- Eastern Meadowlarks
- Upland Sandpipers
- Tree Swallows
- Kestrels Kestrels and more Kestrels!
- Northern Harriers
- Chorus Frogs
- Eastern Towhee
- Eastern Phoebe
A special thanks to our volunteers and friends who have helped us locate shrikes and who have provided their identification skills to help solve matters of NSHR vs LOSH. As always, feel free to pass on the link to this blog, and to call the Shrike Hotline at 1-800-956-6608 if you have shrike sightings to report!
The Napanee Shrike Team