A couple weeks back I acknowledged my one year anniversary of being an official driver with Toronto Wildlife. I've logged all my drives from the very first one, no matter where I went, what I did. It never matters what I'm doing, what I am driving, as long as I am helping the animals. I blogged about the one year mark here.
Not that I am counting really but when the milestones come along, it's neat to see how they unfold. I remember as #50 was nearing, I wondered what it would be. I could make it special no matter what it was, finding a reason to celebrate the animal. Without my help of imagination, #50 was pretty spectacular and you can see it here if you'd like instead of me getting into another lengthy recap.
So entering year #2 of volunteering with 90 release birds under my belt, I couldn't help but wonder when the 100th would be and what.
October 2nd I released some FLAP rescues which were a Junco, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-throated Blue Warbler and a Tennessee Warbler at Humber Bay Park.
October 5th was the release of the 2 young Great Horned Owls you may have read about the other week on here. One I took down to the Owl Foundation from Toronto Wildlife.
October 7th I picked up a rehabbed Pigeon who lives in our neck of the woods. He was picked up at Scarlett and Dundas, so that is where I took him back to. For all I know, he's been a visitor to our yard. I swear this bird recognized me at the release because he did not act like any other Pigeon I've released in the past.
October 10th I did a drive for a Black & White Warbler. Over an hour of driving in busy afternoon traffic to get this little bird back on his migratory journey, letting him out at a lakeside park west of Toronto.
That last Warbler was #98. So close!
I missed the release opportunity earlier this week. For what I did not know other than it was more FLAP survivors.
It was a busy week at work, having me put in some extra hours.
October 16th, the shout out comes to anyone available to drive some more FLAP survivors down to the shores of Lake Ontario west of Toronto. It was early enough in the day (before I had to work) and I took the call. What birds? Don't know. How many? Didn't know that either. Didn't matter really, if I can help, I do, no matter if it's for one bird or 12.
To my delight and surprise, Andrew was in the centre this morning. It's always a pleasure to have a moment of conversation with him. He helped gather the birds up for me, to get me on my way sooner than later, since I still had to get to work.
End result was 8 birds in 8 little brown unwaxed paper bags. They were calling out the species to collect in the aviary, I was listing them in my brain for later use. See, sometimes the bags have the species marked on them but usually they are not. If you don't know your birds, some of them jet off so fast at release that you can only guess what it was. Some on the other hand do stick around in nearby trees and shrubs for a moment as they collect themselves, and take in their surroundings.
Example of a soon to be released bird here; bag is clipped at the folded top to secure the bird.
I arrive to a west end park, Saddington Park to be exact. It's in Port Credit at the bottom of Mississauga Road. I have an open box and all the bags within. The birds were restless and couldn't wait to break out. Now remember, none of the bags are marked. I still have in my head what most of them were but that's it. So first up, whatever it is, would be #99. And then the next one... the milestone #100. I had thought about this on the drive down to the park. It was exciting to me. But really, it didn't matter what species popped out of the bag and was #100. It was going to be special regardless. I was antsy to end this mystery of sorts.
First up, out pops a Red-eyed Vireo. He quickly disappears into the leaves of the tree he flew to.
Okay, next up... oh man, I'm so full of wonder. What's in the bag? WHAT'S IN THE BAG?!?!?! I take a deep breath, get my focus on this one for when he leaves the bag to ensure I get a good view of him and where he goes. I open it, the bird flutters and fights as it sees the light of day and scampers to take flight. WHOOOOOSH! Out he goes. He lands right smack dab in front of me some 15 feet or so, perfect eye level and TA DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA... it's a White-throated Sparrow!
So? What's your take on my 100th release bird? Cool? Boring?
For me, I'm quite thrilled. I love these birds. I love their Spring call. I love their similar Autumn song as broken up as it sounds compared to the Spring one. We are blessed to have brief visits from these birds through both their journeys north to breed and south for the winter. The stays are never that long, a couple days here and there, but we embrace them.
The White-throated Sparrow is the first bird I ever got to band. Not that I have banded a lot of birds but have a few under my belt. Angie and I just don't have the time to commit to such practice, to be good and useful at any banding lab if one would take us.
This species is also one of the first birds I got to release with Toronto Wildlife.
I think all the above gives me enough reason to be excited about this species being #100.
He spent a fair amount of time in the tree, giving me great views to admire him from where I stood. I only took a couple photos because the remaining birds were waiting to go.
Here is the list of the remaining 6 birds in their order, and any one of them could have been that 100th bird if I picked their bag over the one which held the White-throated Sparrow.
#101 Dark-eyed Junco
#102 Dark-eyed Junco
#103 Brown Creeper
#104 Nashville Warbler
#105 Black-throated Green Warbler
#106 Bay-breasted Warbler
After all the birds were out, I tried to spot them. The Juncos disappeared almost immediately. The Creeper put on a good show a few trees over. The Warblers went back to "business as usual" in no time but I could spot them in the trees around me. I tried to get a couple photos before I had to head to work. No chasing any of the birds, just took what I could get from where I was. The birds have been through enough already and don't need any further stress of some big human coming after them.
Black-throated Green Warbler gave some lovely views before flying off.
As always, I silently wished them all safe journeys to wherever they had to go, and I went to work. It certainly gave me a lift in my mood on this Friday because I hate working Friday afternoon/evenings.
The story does not end here though. Today Angie and I woke up to a few White-throated Sparrows in the backyard! I heard them while filling the feeders this morning and eventually the birds showed themselves. Soft calls in the trees and then they came down to forage for food.
It was early in the morning, dim light, and quite cool at the first negative temperature of the fall being -1c. The birds spent an hour or so out back before disappearing. Will we see another before next Spring? That is another mystery if I choose to make it one?