Spring – 2008

 Week 1: March 28 – April 3, 2008

Waterfowl numbers remain low compared to previous spring seasons, due to the late  thaw, but all the same a few geese and ducks are being seen most mornings. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

Waterfowl numbers remain low compared to previous spring seasons, due to the late
thaw, but all the same a few geese and ducks are being seen most mornings.
(Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded12978 (103)
# birds (and species) repeat2226 (59)
# birds (and species) return331 (29)
# species observed242427191
# net hours21945.8
# birds banded / 100 net hours59.1

 

Banders-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei

Censusers: Jean Beaudreault, Shawn Craik, Samuel Denault, Gay Gruner, Demetrios Kobiliris, Helen Leroux, Barbara MacDuff, Mike Mayerhofer, Chris Murphy, Rodger Titman

Notes: With the end of the winter season, comes the beginning of the Spring Migration Monitoring Program (SMMP) at MBO! Our spring season is defined as the 10-week span from March 28 through June 5, with banding occurring daily from April 18 to June 2. Despite it being “spring”, winter weather continued into our season with snow, snow and more snow. We began this season with 12 fewer species than last year at this time, likely due to the enormous amount of snow still on the ground.

This week there were eight new species for 2008, and all 24 were new for spring. The top ten species seen were quite different from last year. For example, Canada Geese are taking their time to build up in number, dropping to eighth from the first spot last year at this time (when an average of nearly 1100 were being seen daily!). Most of the species in the top ten are usually considered winter birds, with the exception of the Red-winged Blackbird which began returning to territory just a few days before the beginning of the spring season.

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Red-winged Blackbird (24.3)
2.  Cedar Waxwing (16.6)
3.  American Crow (14.1)
4.  Bohemian Waxwing (14)
5.  Black-capped Chickadee (9.7)
6.  Slate-colored Junco (4.1)
7.  American Robin (4.0)
8.  Canada Goose (3.4)
9.  Northern Cardinal (3.4)
10.  Blue Jay (3.1)

 

For a while we've noticed that net ties have been disappearing, especially along the B/N nets. With all the leaves off the trees, it was fairly easy to spot the culprit on an early season tour of the net lanes - a Gray Squirrel that seems to have draped at least 9 of them as a decoration beside its nest!  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

For a while we’ve noticed that net ties have been disappearing, especially along the B/N nets. With all the leaves off the trees, it was fairly easy to spot the culprit on an early season tour of the net lanes – a Gray Squirrel that seems to have draped at least 9 of them as a decoration beside its nest! (Photo by Barbara Frei)


 

Week 2:  April 4 – 10, 2008

Fox Sparrows are among the songbirds beginning to trickle back to MBO this week.. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

Fox Sparrows are among the songbirds beginning to trickle back to MBO this week.. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded12978 (103)
# birds (and species) repeat2226 (59)
# birds (and species) return331 (29)
# species observed363839191
# net hours21945.8
# birds banded / 100 net hours59.1

 

Bander-in-charge: Barbara Frei

Censusers: Jean Beaudreault, Shawn Craik, Samuel Denault, Gay Gruner, Demetrios Kobiliris, Genki Kondo, Helen Leroux, Barbara and Don MacDuff, Sarah Marteinson, Chris Murphy, Rodger Titman, Maria Waldron

Notes: As with the beginning of any season, many new species appear on a daily basis. This influx of birds has brought our total number of species observed close to that of last year (38), but we’re still falling 7 species short of last year’s spring total (45), and 12 species short of last year’s total (51). We’re hoping the promise of good weather will start bringing those migrants in!

The turnover in species is also apparent in this week’s top ten, with Canada Goose leaping to the top, followed by Red-winged Blackbird and Snow Goose. Clearly two out of the three won’t be sticking around very long (at least not in large numbers), so continue to expect changes in the top ten over the coming weeks. Spring is not only being signaled by slightly warming temperatures and snow melt, but also by the arrival of certain “springy” species such as Song Sparrow and Ring-billed Gull.

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Canada Goose (174.1) [8]
2.  Red-winged Blackbird (41.6) [1]
3.  Greater Snow Goose (20.3) [-]
4.  American Crow (13.0) [3]
5.  American Robin (9.6) [7]
6.  Song Sparrow (7.0) [-]
7.  Black-capped Chickadee (6.1) [5]
8.  Ring-billed Gull (5.7) [-]
9.  Blue Jay (4.6) [10]
10.  European Starling (3.9) [-]

 

Every year the old blind in the back pond teeters closer to collapse, but the Canada Geese still show an interest in it as a nesting site.  Time will tell whether they end up seeking out a more stable location for laying this year's eggs (Photo by Barbara Frei).

Every year the old blind in the back pond teeters closer to collapse, but the Canada Geese still show an interest in it as a nesting site. Time will tell whether they end up seeking out a more stable location for laying this year’s eggs (Photo by Barbara Frei).


 

Week 3:  April 11 – 17, 2008

Though the landscape remains flecked with remnant snow, early returning migrants are nonetheless getting down to the business of nesting (Photo by Barbara Frei)

Though the landscape remains flecked with remnant snow, early returning migrants
are nonetheless getting down to the business of nesting (Photo by Barbara Frei)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded12978 (103)
# birds (and species) repeat2226 (59)
# birds (and species) return331 (29)
# species observed444849191
# net hours21945.8
# birds banded / 100 net hours59.1

 

Bander-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei

Censusers: Jean Beaudreault, Brian Bell, Amélie Constantineau, Shawn Craik, Samuel Denault, Simon Duval, Kate Earl, Gay Gruner, Genki Kondo, Helen Leroux, Chris Murphy, Dan Schmucker, Rodger Titman, Maria Waldron

Notes: Spring has arrived! We close this week amidst wonderfully warm temperatures, snow-melting sunshine, and a much higher species count than last year at this time (36). Though we’re still a few species short of 2007’s total at this time (54), we’re sure the wonderful weather will do a good job of sending our feathered friends north to MBO. The spring sentinels (Red-winged Blackbird and Song Sparrow) are increasing in number on site, and are singing like crazy. We’ve also begun hearing the occasional frog as well, a sure sign that things are warming up.

This year, thanks to this winter’s naer-record snowfall, the ponds are the highest they’ve been in recent memory. This will no doubt attract many different species, some of which we may not yet have had at MBO. It will also likely increase the number of ducks around, which will hopefully help us out when it comes to banding them, a new little side project for MBO. In the meantime, keep those eyes and ears peeled for the 192nd and 193rd species!

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Canada Goose (439.6) [1]
2.  Greater Snow Goose (162.1) [3]
3.  Red-winged Blackbird (39.6) [2]
4.  Ring-billed Gull (19.4) [8]
5.  American Robin (16.3) [5]
6.  American Crow (14.3) [4]
7.  Song Sparrow (13.0) [6]
8.  Mallard (8.0) [-]
9.  Black-capped Chickadee (7.6) [7]
10.  Slate-colored Junco (4.9) [-]

 

April 16 - MBO volunteer Brian Bell crosses over the front fence at MBO.  This is the first time since MBO was launched in 2004 that we have had snow this late into spring, let alone this much of it.  (Photo by Barbara Frei).

April 16 – MBO volunteer Brian Bell crosses over the front fence at MBO. This is the first time since MBO was launched in 2004 that we have had snow this late into spring, let alone this much of it. (Photo by Barbara Frei).


 

 

Week 4:  April 18 – 24, 2008

Here's lookin' at you kid!  While hardly a kid anymore, this after-third-year Hairy Woodpecker holds a very special place in MBO history: first banded in 2004 and recaptured in June of 2005, we haven't seen this guy in our nets again until this week! Eerily enough, an American Robin also returned to MBO during the same net round, and was also banded in 2004 (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Here’s lookin’ at you kid! While hardly a kid anymore, this after-third-year Hairy Woodpecker
holds a very special place in MBO history: first banded in 2004 and recaptured in June of 2005,
we haven’t seen this guy in our nets again until this week! Eerily enough, an American Robin
also returned to MBO during the same net round, and was also banded in 2004 (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded141 (18)141 (18)141 (18)13119 (103)
# birds (and species) repeat19 (5)19 (5)19 (5)2245 (59)
# birds (and species) return22 (6)22 (6)22 (6)353 (29)
# species observed696970191
# net hours51051051022455.8
# birds banded / 100 net hours27.627.627.658.4

 

Bander-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei

Assistants: Jean Beaudreault, Sophie Cauchon, Anne Chen, Shawn Craik, Samuel Denault, Simon Duval, David Fishman, Nicky Fleming, Sara Frechette, Maria Frei, Gay Gruner, Genki Kondo, Céline Lecomte, Helen Leroux, Barbara and Don MacDuff, Mike Mayerhofer, Sophie Mazowita, Chris Murphy, André Pelletier, Greg Rand, Chrissy Ranellucci, Katleen Robert, Krystal Swift, Rodger Titman, Maria Waldron

Notes: Apparently Mother Nature decided that we’d had a hard enough winter this year, what with all the snow, and decided to cut us some slack, skipping spring and launching right into summer! The afternoon temperatures have hovered around 23 degrees throughout the week, making for some slightly sun-burnt but happy banders.

We’ve managed to add 20 new species to the spring and 2008 lists, allowing us to close the gap a little between 2007 and 2008 in terms of species observed (71 vs 69). With all the good weather we’ve also managed to band almost three times as many birds as compared to last year’s first week of banding. As is the case in early spring we have more returns than repeats, signaling the return of our local breeders and perhaps also some birds showing migratory stop-over fidelity. This is a very interesting aspect of migration that we’re keeping our eye on after noticing that a few Song Sparrows were banded once last August in the first days of banding, reappearing only this week. One is a nice little return, two is interesting, but more than that makes you question where these birds spend their summers, if not at MBO. We’ve begun many little side projects this season, and this is sure to be one of them. We’ll be sure to keep you posted!

In addition to the many highlights of the week that we’ll get into shortly, we’d like to take a minute to welcome our first intern, Simon Duval. Simon comes to us from Cégep de la Pocatière and will be spending the entire spring season with us. We welcome him and hope all our future interns will be as dedicated, quick to learn, eager and congenial as he is. Bienvenu Simon!

In terms of highlights, our week began with the first day of banding for the season (Friday). And there’s no better way to begin the season than with a Northern Shrike! Add a litter of baby Red Squirrels (see below, in a nest box, not in the net) and you’ve got a busy day full of birds and babies, just how we like it. Saturday brought in a Savannah Sparrow and Sunday and Monday ushered in lots of new species as well. Tuesday was host to the beginning of a very noisy spring with Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers suddenly deciding to burst into “song”. How frogs can drown out birdsong we’ll never understand! Wednesday had us scanning the skies trying to add to our 10 Broad-winged Hawks and 3 Red-tailed Hawks that soared over us during our DETs, and Thursday rounded out a week of firsts with a Yellow Palm Warbler and a Yellow-shafted Flicker in the nets, and an Eastern Bluebird investigating a nest box. We’ve got our fingers and our toes crossed that it will decide to nest at MBO, which would be a first for us. Last year it was the Great Crested Flycatcher, this year it will hopefully be the bluebird, and next year… Purple Martins perhaps?

This week’s top 10 banded species is no surprise with the wave of kinglets coming through at the moment – more in one week than we banded all of last spring! We’re sure there will be a major shift come next week’s top ten, as the Fox Sparrows are already coming down in number, the American Tree Sparrows are pretty much gone, and the warblers are coming! The number of Fox Sparrows this week was also remarkable, as we banded more in seven days than over the past three spring seasons combined. Otherwise this week’s list is similar to last year’s at this time, though much more sparrow-y.

This week’s top 10 observed species is also similar to last year’s, and somewhat similar to last week’s with the top four spots remaining fairly consistent. The addition of high-flying Common Grackle flocks, tinkling Ruby-crowned Kinglets and mournfully singing Fox Sparrows have shaken the top 10 up a little, but the usual suspects remain on the list (Song Sparrow, American Crow, and American Robin). This week has been quite wonderful, so we very much look forward to what next week will bring!

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (56) [-]1.  Canada Goose (561) [1]
2.  Fox Sparrow (23) [-]2.  Greater Snow Goose (139) [2]
3.  Red-winged Blackbird (9)
[-]
Slate-colored Junco (9) [-]
3.  Ring-billed Gull (71) [4]
4.  Red-winged Blackbird (57) [4]
5.  American Goldfinch (8)
[-]
Song Sparrow (8)
[-]
White-throated Sparrow (8) [-]
5.  Common Grackle (38) [-]
6.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (28) [-]
7.  Song Sparrow (20) [7]
8.  Swamp Sparrow (7) [-]8.  American Crow (19) [6]
9.  American Robin (2)
[-]
American Tree Sparrow (2) [-]
9.  American Robin (15) [5]
10.  Fox Sparrow (14) [-]

 

This Northern Shrike has made itself quite conspicuous throughout the week, singing, trilling, appearing in a net (see the band glinting in the sunlight?), and even peering into nest boxes!  We observed it perched on a nest box after having a pair of Tree Swallows hovering around.  Apparently unsatisfied at simply being perched on the box, it decided to take a closer look and actually stuck its face in the hole!  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This Northern Shrike has made itself quite conspicuous throughout the week, singing, trilling, appearing in a net (see the band glinting in the sunlight?), and even peering into nest boxes! We observed it perched on a nest box after having a pair of Tree Swallows hovering around. Apparently unsatisfied at simply being perched on the box, it decided to take a closer look and actually stuck its face in the hole! (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

It’s a good thing the shrike didn’t express any interest in one of the nest boxes, because Momma Red Squirrel probably would have had a problem with it.  While attempting to clean out the nest boxes in preparation for our Tree Swallows (and maybe Eastern Bluebirds – we had a prospective breeder checking out one of our boxes), we accidentally encountered a litter of Red Squirrel babies.  We quickly put them back and ensured from afar that mom came back to tend to her young. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

It’s a good thing the shrike didn’t express any interest in one of the nest boxes, because Momma Red Squirrel probably would have had a problem with it. While attempting to clean out the nest boxes in preparation for our Tree Swallows (and maybe Eastern Bluebirds – we had a prospective breeder checking out one of our boxes), we accidentally encountered a litter of Red Squirrel babies. We quickly put them back and ensured from afar that mom came back to tend to her young. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

Our first warbler of 2008 was not the expected Yellow-rumped Warbler, but an after-second-year male Yellow Palm Warbler - especially surprising as we have now banded 100 Palm Warblers in total, but this was the first one we've banded during spring!  This little guy had a stow-away in the form of a tick which Barbara carefully removed.  We’re assisting with John Scott’s tick project again this year, so not only are we helping the birds by taking these rather uncomfortable creatures off, but we’re gleaning information from them as well!  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

Our first warbler of 2008 was not the expected Yellow-rumped Warbler, but an after-second-year male Yellow Palm Warbler – especially surprising as we have now banded 100 Palm Warblers in total, but this was the first one we’ve banded during spring! This little guy had a stow-away in the form of a tick which Barbara carefully removed. We’re assisting with John Scott’s tick project again this year, so not only are we helping the birds by taking these rather uncomfortable creatures off, but we’re gleaning information from them as well! (Photo by Barbara Frei)


 

Week 5:  April 25 – May 1, 2008

So far so good - the Eastern Bluebird pair is hanging around, showing great interest in our nest boxes and providing some great photo opportunities, including this one of the male standing guard on top of nest box #38 (Photo by André Pelletier)

So far so good – the Eastern Bluebird pair is hanging around, showing great interest in our
nest boxes and providing some great photo opportunities, including this one of the male
standing guard on top of nest box #38 (Photo by André Pelletier)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded68 (12)209 (21)209 (21)13187 (103)
# birds (and species) repeat28 (10)47 (11)47 (12)2273 (59)
# birds (and species) return13 (5)35 (8)35 (8)366 (29)
# species observed718081191
# net hours436.7946.7946.722892.5
# birds banded / 100 net hours15.622.122.157.6

 

Banders-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei

Assistants: Alexandre Anctil, Jean Beaudreault, David Bird, Mark Brenchley, Duncan Brown, Sophie Cauchon, Anne Chen, Simon Duval, Gay Gruner, Jeff Harrison, Demetrios Kobiliris, Lance Laviolette, Céline Lecomte, Helen Leroux, Barbara and Don MacDuff, Mike Mayerhofer, Joe Peck, André Pelletier, Greg Rand, Crissy Ranellucci, Rodger Titman, Maria Waldron

Notes: This past week will teach us not to be too quick to thank Mother Nature. With temperatures dipping by 20 degrees, increasingly cold winds and a few showers, migration and banding were quite hampered.

Despite the frigid weather we were able to add 12 new species to the spring and 2008 lists, allowing us to catch up to and surpass last year in terms of species observed. Also despite some rather slow nets, we’ve managed to band almost three times as many birds than last year at this time (though it should be noted that we’ve had double the net hours). Three new species for the season were banded this week: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Thrasher and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

The highlights of the week are dominated by indications of the breeding season that is quickly approaching if not already here: Tree Swallows so busy with courtship and fighting over nest boxes (no worries, we’ve put up several new boxes to accommodate these feisty little birds – thanks to Jeff Webster, Greg Weil, and Rodger Titman for these) that they fail to see the net directly in front of them, resulting in their spot in the top 10; the Eastern Bluebird pair bopping from nest box to nest box seeking the perfect home; several momma Red Squirrels moving babies and making new homes in both nest boxes and trees; and leopard and wood frogs, not to mention spring peepers croaking their little froggy hearts out in anticipation of the warm weather to come (we hope). All this rounded out with some very nice sightings of a young Bald Eagle soaring over the site, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak (a sure sign of spring), and various avian chases and you’ve got a very nice week indeed.

This week’s top 10 banded species is tiny compared to last week’s. The wave of kinglets appears to have passed, and without one female! Either they’re more adept at avoiding the nets than the males, or we’ve yet to have them come through. True to form, there’s been a major shift in the top 10, though this is largely due to the small number of birds banded this week. The White-throated Sparrows have taken over by far, followed by Red-winged Blackbirds (most if not all collected from the D nets), and then a handful of individuals from the remaining eight species. Surely this is the only time/circumstance we’ll see both Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Brown Thrasher in the top ten. Comparing this year to last year is a bit difficult since banding only occurred on one day last year, however, strangely enough, the top 10 tables are quite similar in composition.

This week’s top 10 observed species is also very similar to last year’s, the only difference being the replacement of American Robins with White-throated Sparrows. We’re curious to see whether this consistency will continue over the coming week.

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  White-throated Sparrow (27) [7]1.  Canada Goose (203) [1]
2.  Red-winged Blackbird (11) [3]2.  Red-winged Blackbird (49) [4]
3.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (6) [1]
Swamp Sparrow (6) [8]
3.  American Crow (24) [8]
4.  Ring-billed Gull (22) [3]
5.  American Goldfinch (5) [5]
Tree Swallow (5) [-]
5.  White-throated Sparrow (20) [-]
6.  Tree Swallow (12) [-]
7.  Yellow-rumped Sparrow (2) [-]
Song Sparrow (2) [6]
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2) [-]
7.  Song Sparrow (11) [7]
8.  American Goldfinch (11) [-]
9.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet(11) [6]
10.  Brown Thrasher (1) [-]10.  Black-capped Chickadee (9) [-]

 

This was the week of the White-throated Sparrow at MBO!  Honourable mention goes to the woodpecker crew, with one Downy Woodpecker and two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers banded (Photo by Marcel Gahbauer)

This was the week of the White-throated Sparrow at MBO! Honourable mention goes to the woodpecker crew, with one Downy Woodpecker and two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers banded (Photo by Marcel Gahbauer)

 

T his young male Yellow-rumped Warbler is sure to be followed by many more over the coming weeks. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This young male Yellow-rumped Warbler is sure to be followed by many more over the coming weeks. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

This male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was followed by a female in the exact same spot in the net!  These were only the 7th and 8th ones banded at MBO. (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

This male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was followed by a female in the exact same spot in the net! These were only the 7th and 8th ones banded at MBO.  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)


 

 

Week 6:  May 2-8, 2008

Ask and ye shall receive:  they've been hanging around for a week and we've been saying how nice it would be for one of them to hit the net ... this after-second-year male obliged, taking his place as the third Eastern Bluebird banded at MBO. (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Ask and ye shall receive: they’ve been hanging around for a week and we’ve been saying
how nice it would be for one of them to hit the net … this after-second-year male obliged,
taking his place as the third Eastern Bluebird banded at MBO. (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded68 (22)277 (34)277 (34)13255 (103)
# birds (and species) repeat12 (8)59 (14)59 (14)2285 (60)
# birds (and species) return17 (8)52 (11)52 (11)383 (29)
# species observed82102103191
# net hours436946.7946.723328.5
# birds banded / 100 net hours15.6202056.8

 

Banders-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei

Assistants: Alexandre Anctil, Jean Beaudreault, Duncan Brown, Sophie Cauchon, Dominic Chambers, Simon Duval, Nicky Fleming, Emily Gray, Gay Gruner, Jeff Harrison, Lesley Howes, Stacey Jarema, Lance Laviolette, Helen Leroux, Barbara and Don MacDuff, Mike Mayerhofer, Jim Murray, André Pelletier, Kathleen Sary, Rodger Titman, Rae Trenchard

Notes: Spring “officially” arrived this mid-week, with the en-masse arrival of its most colourful heralds: the warblers! We banded more than twice as many species as last week and last year at this time with 13 new species banded, and added a whopping 22 new species to our list of species observed this season, 10 of which were warblers. Add to that, three new species repeated and three new species returned and we’ve got lots of reasons to celebrate spring!

The week began cold and dreary, but then highlights accumulated as southern winds and warmer temperatures beginning on Monday brought a mixture of birds back to MBO for the first time this year, some passing through on migration and others arriving to breed in the area (or so we hope!). Five warbler species were banded this week, including Yellow and Black-and-white, both of which nest locally but also appear at MBO as migrants heading further north. Among the migrants definitely headed further north were Nashville and Yellow-rumped Warblers, as well as White-throated, White-crowned, and Lincoln’s Sparrows. Other new arrivals this week included Least Flycatcher, Warbling and Blue-headed Vireos, Baltimore Oriole, and Bobolink – most of which maintain at least a small local population at or near MBO each summer. We look forward to enjoying their colourful company and songs over the next few weeks

As MBO matures as a station we expect more and more returns of familiar faces (and bands). This week the number of birds returning (i.e., absent for 3 months or more) is greater than those repeated. This is due to several Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows and Yellow Warblers, that were either hatched or previously bred at MBO. Considering the potential dangers and hardships these birds face during their bi-annual travels, we happily welcome them back for another spring and summer!

This week’s top 10 banded species list shows the influx of new species, with four new entries: White-crowned Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Yellow Warbler. The top five are similar to last week, with the top three still much more numerous than any of the others. This list barely resembles last year’s list that was devoid of warblers despite an influx of 20 new species that week.

Interestingly, this week’s top 10 observed species list is quite similar to last year’s despite the differences in the top 10 banded. Though Snow Geese pretty much disappeared last week, they were back big time this week, with well over 1000 in the sky at one time. The most notable appearance on the list though is our Cliff Swallows, increasing in number at the same time as last year. Though the first individuals arrived this year on April 21, they are only now appearing in large numberes, with the sky over the weather station teeming with them as they fly around hawking for insects.

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  White-throated Sparrow (13) [1]
Red-winged Blackbird (13) [2]
1.  Canada Goose (459) [1]
2.  Snow Goose (150) [-]
3.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (10) [3]3.  Red-winged Blackbird (39) [2]
4. American Goldfinch (5) [5]4.  Cliff Swallow (22) [-]
5.  Tree Swallow (5) [5]5.  American Crow (21) [3]
6.  White-crowned Sparrow (3) [-]6.  Tree Swallow (15) [6]
7.  Common Yellowthroat (2) [-]
Lincoln’s Sparrow (2) [-]
Swamp Sparrow (2) [7]
Yellow Warbler (2) [-]
7.  Ring-billed Gull (14) [3]
8.  Song Sparrow (12) [7]
9.  White-throated Sparrow (11) [5]
10.  Black-capped Chickadee (10) [10]

 

A sure sign that summer’s coming: the vibrant oranges of returning Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

A sure sign that summer’s coming: the vibrant oranges of returning Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

This after-second-year male Purple Finch had a well-developed cloacal protuberance, suggesting that it might be not far from its breeding grounds. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This after-second-year male Purple Finch had a well-developed cloacal protuberance, suggesting that it might be not far from its breeding grounds.
(Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

This second-year male Sharp-shinned Hawk was greeted with whoops of delights when he hit the nets, being the first raptor of the season.  Let's hope more follow!  Note the partially closed nictitating membrane over the eye.  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This second-year male Sharp-shinned Hawk was greeted with whoops of delights when he hit the nets, being the first raptor of the season. Let’s hope more follow! Note the partially closed nictitating membrane over the eye. (Photo by Barbara Frei)


 

Week 7:  May 9-15, 2008

 

Though nowhere close to our Yellow-rumped Warbler invasion of fall 2006, these little guys seemed to pop up everywhere this week, with more banded during this period than the entire 2006 spring season (and close to our 2005 and 2007 totals).  This particularly handsome after-second-year male will likely be continuing to wing his way north to breed any day now.  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Though nowhere close to our Yellow-rumped Warbler invasion of fall 2006, these little
guys seemed to pop up everywhere this week, with more banded during this period
than the entire 2006 spring season (and close to our 2005 and 2007 totals). This
particularly handsome after-second-year male will likely be continuing to wing
his way north to breed any day now. (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

 

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded177 (32)454 (45)454 (45)13432 (103)
# birds (and species) repeat26 (12)85 (18)85 (18)2311 (60)
# birds (and species) return13 (11)65 (15)65 (15)396 (30)
# species observed91118119193
# net hours5081890.71890.723836.5
# birds banded / 100 net hours34.8242456.3

 

Banders-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei

Assistants: Gilles Burelle, Natalia Castellanos, Sophie Cauchon, Dominic Chambers, Simon Duval, Pierre Duval, Bob Edwards, Nicky Fleming, Gay Gruner, Jeff Harrison, Stacey Jarema, Helen Leroux, Mike Mayerhofer, André Pelletier, Jérôme Pétigny, Greg Rand, Kathleen Sary, Rodger Titman

Notes: Pleasant weather despite some rather chilly mornings and lots of birds made this week quite wonderful. For those of you placing bets for the next new species to appear at MBO, it’s last call: we added TWO new species this week! Any guesses? None of us would have predicted that Lesser Yellowlegs and Black Tern would be the two species to bring the site total up to 193, but there you have it! Seven more to the big 2-0-0…

Sixteen species, including our two most famous additions, were added to the season/year list: Sora, Virginia Rail, Green Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Chimney Swift, Great Crested Flycatcher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Veery, Blackpoll Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Cape May Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, and Scarlet Tanager.

Banding-wise things have picked up since last week. We banded more than twice as many individuals as last week, though couldn’t quite catch up to last year’s weekly total of 202 birds banded during the same period – though on the whole, the spring 2008 season remains ahead of the pace compared to past years. This week we added 11 new species to our list of species banded this season. Another first for the site was the return of a House Wren! We’re sure it’s busy cramming sticks into one or more of our nest boxes as we write these words. Our Tree Swallows have begun laying this week, and our Black-capped Chickadees, Canada Geese and Mallards have been on eggs for at least a week now, if not more. Although we have yet to see them nesting, some of the species returning to the site this week, such as the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Common Yellowthroats, Warbling Vireo, and previously mentioned House Wren may very well soon be! We’re looking forward to seeing the first fledgers of the season!

There were many other highlights this week: spotting two Virginia Rails carefully stepping amongst the cattails on the far side of Stoneycroft, having a little brown bat zipping around our ears first thing in the morning near the cabin, realizing that the leaves have come out overnight and the site has gone from brownish to vibrant green (and pink due to the apple blossoms), having 30+ warblers gleaning bugs off the cottonwood leaves all around us, banding five Brown-headed Cowbird males in two net rounds, topping 60 species seen and heard in one morning, and having a wonderful visit by nine keen MBOers-to-be on Mother’s Day weekend, coordinated by the Morgan Arboretum. We had a great time discussing the basics of banding and showing off our birds. Last but certainly not least, we had a very special return to MBO in the form of an after-second-year male Baltimore Oriole, first banded in 2005 and not seen since! These recoveries are only one of many interesting facets of banding, but usually the one that produces the most excitement.

This week’s top 10 banded species list again shows the influx of new species, with four new entries: Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle form), Baltimore Oriole, Brown-headed Cowbird and Blue-headed Vireo. The number of Myrtles banded gives an indication of how many there are around, since most don’t even get caught! The discrepancy between this week and last year’s week 7 comes from the blackbirds. Last year we caught 65 in a week, compared with this week’s 33. Granted we’ve had some escapes as these powerful birds are able to use our nets like trampolines, but they seem to be settling down on territory now, and we’ve had fewer flying high over the site.

This week’s top 10 observed species list hasn’t changed much from last week’s, with the exception of an invasion of Yellow-rumps and American Goldfinches. The Canada Goose lines have dropped dramatically, as they did last year at this time, while the White-throated Sparrows continue to hang around later than we would expect. Amazingly, the Eastern White-crowned Sparrows that were still around in fair numbers at the beginning of the week vanished overnight two days ago, making our J-trap seem quite empty (they really seemed to like the J-trap – the 15 we banded during those few days were nearly as many as in the first three spring seasons combined!)

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Red-winged Blackbird (33) [1]1.  Red-winged Blackbird (72) [3]
2.  White-throated Sparrow (29) [1]2.  Canada Goose (39) [1]
3.  Yellow-rumped Warbler (24) [-]3.  Cliff Swallow (30) [4]
4.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (20) [3]4.  Ring-billed Gull (21) [7]
5.  White-crowned Sparrow (15) [3]5.  American Crow (21) [5]
6.  American Goldfinch (6) [4]6.  White-throated Sparrow (18) [9]
7.  Baltimore Oriole (5) [-]
Brown-headed Cowbird (5) [-]
7.  Yellow-rumped Warbler (16) [-]
8.  American Goldfinch (15) [-]
9.  Common Yellowthroat (4) [7]9.  Tree Swallow (15) [6]
10.  Blue-headed Vireo (3) [-]
Nashville Warbler (3) [-]
Chipping Sparrow (3) [-]
10.  Song Sparrow (12) [8]

 

This second-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is showing the typically distinct contrast between its nice new glossy black adult feathers and its retained brown juvenile feathers that it has been sporting since last summer. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This second-year male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is showing the typically distinct contrast between its nice new glossy black adult feathers and its retained brown juvenile feathers that it has been sporting since last summer.  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

One of our smaller warblers, the Northern Parula is also among the least common warblers at MBO, ranking 20th among the 24 species we have banded to date. This after-second-year female is only the third Northern Parula we've banded during spring migration.  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

One of our smaller warblers, the Northern Parula is also among the least common warblers at MBO, ranking 20th among the 24 species we have banded to date. This after-second-year female is only the third Northern Parula we’ve banded during spring migration. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

Though they're common at MBO, it's always a special treat to get a Blue Jay in the net, as they're very well behaved and wonderful to look at.  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Though they’re common at MBO, it’s always a special treat to get a Blue Jay in the net, as they’re very well behaved and wonderful to look at. (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

 


 

 

Week 8:  May 16-22, 2008

We thought for sure when we banded the very special guy on Tuesday (see below) that we had our bird of the week, hands down.  However, the first ever Solitary Sandpiper to hit our nets had to take precedent, as it's the only shorebird we've ever banded!  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

We thought for sure when we banded the very special guy on Tuesday (see below)
that we had our bird of the week, hands down. However, the first ever Solitary Sandpiper
to hit our nets had to take precedent, as it’s the only shorebird we’ve ever banded! (Photo by Barbara Frei)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded147 (34)601 (55)601 (55)13579 (105)
# birds (and species) repeat62 (17)147 (23)147 (23)2373 (60)
# birds (and species) return17 (8)82 (16)82 (16)413 (30)
# species observed90128129193
# net hours4542344.72344.724290.5
# birds banded / 100 net hours32.225.625.655.9

 

Banders-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei

Assistants: Jean Beaudreault, David Bird, Duncan Brown, Gilles Burelle, Michèle Carignan, Shawn Craik, Dave Davey, Jessica Deakin, Simon Duval, Nicky Fleming, Emily Gray, Herb Greenslade, Gay Gruner, Alessia Kockel, Barbara and Don MacDuff, Mike Mayerhofer, Dara Moshones, Kathleen Sary, Rodger Titman, Maria Waldron

Notes: What a week! After we added two new species to the site list last week, it seemed like this week felt it had something to prove, as it served up two species banded for the first time! Numbers 104 and 105 are now assigned to Bobolink and Solitary Sandpiper, two species that have been zooming around our site for well over a week (as well as in past years) and that we had given up ever seeing in the net. Goes to show you should never give up!

Ten species were added to the season/year list of species observed: Purple Martin, Sedge Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Philadelphia Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Canada and Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Indigo Bunting. Not to be outdone, 10 species were banded for the first time this season: Solitary Sandpiper, Hairy Woodpecker, Philadelphia Vireo, Black-throated Green, Tennessee, Wilson’s, Chestnut-sided and Magnolia Warblers, American Redstart, and Bobolink.

The wind was definitely an issue with steady, strong south-west winds pretty much all week, finally resulting in an entire morning winded/rained out. We had 50 fewer net hours than last week, which might explain the 30 fewer birds banded, but actually had 150 more net hours than last year at this time, and only banded about 15 more birds. Though we can’t quite quantify it using net hours, we’re sure the winds kept the birds from flying as freely as they’d like to, resulting in fewer captures. It’s also likely that these southwest winds, so rare this spring up until now, may have encouraged migrants to zoom right over us and continue north, taking advantage of the strong tailwinds. Despite the slower pace this week, we’re still over 100 birds banded ahead of last year at this point in the season, and up four species.

Aside from the very exciting Solitary Sandpiper and Bobolink bandings, there were many other highlights this week: our first Canada Goose family was seen paddling around the ponds, the avian morning chorus was finally loud enough to drown out our ever-persistent spring peepers, a mink zooming out of the J-trap as soon as it saw us coming took us a while to identify, the Tree Swallows taking advantage of every single horizontal surface to “get together”, leaving us with no doubt that eggs are coming, and our second group visit of the season, Rodger Titman’s wonderfully inquisitive morning chorus gang.

This week’s top 10 banded species list shows a mixed trend, with some of the species that dominated last week’s list continuing to show up in even greater numbers, while the departure of earlier migrants and arrival of some later ones has resulted in some new entries. White-throated Sparrows seemed to disappear overnight, accounting for their sudden departure from the list after dominating it for the past few weeks. However, just the fact they remained around in numbers for so long was a big contrast to past years – the 77 we banded over the previous four weeks alone nearly matches the combined total of 84 for the 2005-2007 spring migration monitoring programs.

Just as the White-throated Sparrows vanished, we received a dramatic influx of Yellow Warblers, vaulting them to the top of this week’s list, even ahead of the always numerous Red-winged Blackbirds. The number of Yellow Warblers we banded this week was greater than we had for the entire season either of the past two springs! Yellow-rumped Warblers hung in at third place, while the species in 4th through 6th all edged up in rank and number from last week. Three new additions round out our top 10, with Magnolia Warbler tied for 7th spot, Gray Catbird mewling into 8th and Rose-breasted Grosbeak coming in last. We’ve recaught several of the grosbeaks – they just seem to be everywhere at the moment! The major differences compared to last year at this time is the lack of Tennessee and Nashville Warblers. Perhaps they’re just a little later this year and will appear next week? Another interesting difference is the complete lack of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, five of which were banded last year at this time. Just goes to show how much push and pull there is in migration between years

The Canada Goose has finally been ousted from this week’s top 10 observed species list, with Yellow Warblers surging into 2nd position behind the ever-present Red-wings. The list is otherwise fairly stable, with the same species as last week juggled around a little. Two exceptions: Baltimore Oriole and Common Grackle have cracked the top 10, as they are now numerous enough – and other species have dropped in abundance enough – to allow them onto the list.

As we count down the days until our Baillie Birdathon (this Saturday), we hope for another influx of species, good weather, and lots of laughs!

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Yellow Warbler (24) [-]1.  Red-winged Blackbird (54) [1]
2.  Red-winged Blackbird (20) [1]2.  Yellow Warbler (17) [-]
3.  Yellow-rumped Warbler (11) [3]3.  Cliff Swallow (16) [3]
4.  White-crowned Sparrow (10) [5]4.  American Crow (16) [5]
5.  American Goldfinch (9) [6]5.  Tree Swallow (13) [9]
6.  Common Yellowthroat (8) [8]6.  Ring-billed Gull (12) [4]
7.  Baltimore Oriole (7) [7]
Magnolia Warbler (7) [-]
7.  American Goldfinch (12) [8]
8.  Baltimore Oriole (10) [-]
9.  Gray Catbird (6) [-]9.  Song Sparrow (9) [10]
10.  Rose-breasted Grosbeak (5) [-]10.  Common Grackle (9) [-]

 

This after-hatch-year male Bobolink is clearly thinking hard about how to escape.  He was the first Bobolink ever banded at MBO, though our BIC Barbara is an old hand at banding them already thanks to her MSc thesis.  For more information concerning Bobolinks and grasslands, please click here.  We were especially excited to see that he had a well developed cloacal protuberance, an indication that he may be getting ready to breed in the field right next to MBO.  We’re hoping to contact the McGill farm to see if we can delay mowing this year to give these guys, and the Savannah Sparrows that are still singing away, the chance to raise at least one brood.  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This after-hatch-year male Bobolink is clearly thinking hard about how to escape. He was the first Bobolink ever banded at MBO, though our BIC Barbara is an old hand at banding them already thanks to her MSc thesis. For more information concerning Bobolinks and grasslands, please click here. We were especially excited to see that he had a well developed cloacal protuberance, an indication that he may be getting ready to breed in the field right next to MBO. We’re hoping to contact the McGill farm to see if we can delay mowing this year to give these guys, and the Savannah Sparrows that are still singing away, the chance to raise at least one brood. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

Our first babies of the year!  Though the Canada Goose (dubbed Priscilla) that decided to nest on the top of the duck blind in the middle of the back pond is still sitting there waiting for her brood to hatch, this family apparently got an earlier start.  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

Our first babies of the year! Though the Canada Goose (dubbed Priscilla) that decided to nest on the top of the duck blind in the middle of the back pond is still sitting there waiting for her brood to hatch, this family apparently got an earlier start. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

This second-year male Chestnut-sided Warbler finally made his appearance in our nets.  We’ve been waiting for our first one of the year for a little while now.  (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This second-year male Chestnut-sided Warbler finally made his appearance in our nets. We’ve been waiting for our first one of the year for a little while now. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 

This second-year male… Baltimore Oriole… certainly gave us pause when we banded it.  Its colouration is like none we’ve seen so far, making us wonder if it has an Orchard Oriole (or even Hooded Oriole) somewhere in its lineage.   (Photo by Barbara Frei)

This second-year male… Baltimore Oriole… certainly gave us pause when we banded it. Its colouration is like none we’ve seen so far, making us wonder if it has an Orchard Oriole (or even Hooded Oriole) somewhere in its lineage. (Photo by Barbara Frei)

 


 

 

Week 9:  May 23-29, 2008

It was very difficult to pick a photo of the week, but we figured why not go with the most colourful of the bunch? This after-second-year male Indigo Bunting was a shoe-in.  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

It was very difficult to pick a photo of the week, but we figured why not go with the most
colourful of the bunch? This after-second-year male Indigo Bunting was a shoe-in. (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded171 (30)772 (63)772 (63)13750 (105)
# birds (and species) repeat41 (14)188 (25)188 (25)2414 (60)
# birds (and species) return8 (4)90 (17)90 (17)421 (30)
# species observed101136137193
# net hours4462790.72790.724736.5
# birds banded / 100 net hours38.327.727.755.6

 

Bander-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson

Assistants: Jean Beaudreault, Louise Bédard, David Bird, Anne Chen, Dave Davey, Samuel Denault, Andréanne Deschamps, Simon Duval, David Fishman, Nicky Fleming, Gay Gruner, Demetrios Kobiliris, Céline Lecomte, Helen Leroux, Barbara MacDuff, Mike Mayerhofer, Chris Murphy, Kathleen Sary, Rodger Titma

Notes: It was during this week last year that we banded our 10000th bird, a TY female Hairy Woodpecker. We’re creeping ever closer to the 14000 mark, though it will likely have to wait until next fall unless the nets suddenly begin teeming with birds over the next week. Many other landmarks/records were smashed this week though, with a huge influx of migrants on the night of the 25th. We have now banded more birds than during any other spring season (despite closing our nets for the Baillie Birdathon and having some very fierce winds to contend with), we tied our busiest spring day ever with 57 birds banded (same as May 16th 2005 but with one less species), and banded more Wilson’s Warblers in one week than in any previous spring season! Although not *quite* a record, it’s also worth pointing out this is only the second time we’ve observed over 100 species in a week (the other being week 8 in spring 2006, when we tallied 104). Last year at this time migration was showing clear signs of winding down, but this year it’s still going strong, with only a few days of banding left until the end of the season.

Eight species were added this week to the season/year list: Gadwall, Black-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Traill’s Flycatcher, Bank Swallow, American Pipit, Mourning Warbler, and eight species were added to our newly banded for the season list (Traill’s Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Mourning, Canada, Blackpoll and Bay-breasted Warblers – our first spring bay-breasted ever! – and Indigo Bunting), bringing it up to 63, which ties the high we set in 2006. It should be noted though that spring species totals have been very consistent over our three previous years, ranging only from 61 to 63. A few days remain to see whether we can make it to 64 for the first time.

This week has been hugely exciting with all the birds around, but also incredibly exasperating! The wind has enabled several birds to escape as the pockets ballooned open, and a few very special birds have either hit the net and bounced (Sharp-shinned Hawk and American Crow – those of you who know crows know that they NEVER get caught in mist-nets…and we were so close…), or have skirted within inches of a net without getting caught (Virginia Rail that scooted across the path at C2). Luckily, we’ve also had many warblers to keep us happy, and our breeders have really gotten down to business: Yellow Warbler and Baltimore Oriole nests have popped up almost everywhere, and the female Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Song Sparrows and even a Chipping Sparrow and a White-throated Sparrow, have gigantic brood patches designed to keep their eggs warm.

This week’s top 10 banded species list has changed drastically from last week, reflecting the wave of warblers coming through. Despite the influx, Red-winged Blackbirds reclaimed their top spot, with Wilson’s and Blackpoll Warblers in hot pursuit. Though the Blackpoll numbers don’t begin to compare to last year, most of the 17 banded were within the space of two days, making us feel like every other bird banded was a Blackpoll. A group of about 16 Cedar Waxwings has decided to hang around as well, teaching us that waxwings are not very adept at avoiding nets. We were sure we’d banded most of the flock by now, but they just keep coming and we have yet to recap any of them. Yellow Warblers slipped out of their top spot, their migration slowing down with mostly just local breeders remaining. Virtually all the Northern Waterthrushes, tied with American Goldfinch for the last spot in the top 10, were banded on the same day as well, highlighting the wave effect that migration can appear to have.

Canada Goose has resurfaced on this week’s top 10 observed species list, but well behind the other usual suspects that have simply shuffled around. It should be specified though, that their position within the table is largely due to the brood of seven goslings seen every day. Their number will of course be removed for the purpose of our migration monitoring, since they’re obviously not migrants (yet)! The arrival of the flock of Cedar Waxwings is highlighted by their appearance on the list as well – perhaps they’ll remain on site and decide to breed come July?

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Red-winged Blackbird (21) [2]1.  Red-winged Blackbird (41) [1]
2.  Wilson’s Warbler (19) [-]2.  Cliff Swallow (32) [3]
3.  Blackpoll Warbler (17) [-]3.  Ring-billed Gull (18) [6]
4.  Cedar Waxwing (11) [-]
Magnolia Warbler (11) [7]
4.  Yellow Warbler (17) [2]
5.  Tree Swallow (15) [5]
6.  American Crow (14) [4]
6.  Common Yellowthroat (10) [6]7.  Canada Goose (13) [-]
7.  Yellow Warbler (9) [1]
Yellow-rumped Warbler (9) [3]
8.  American Goldfinch (10) [7]
9.  American Goldfinch (8) [5]
Northern Waterthrush (8) [-]
9.  Cedar Waxwing (9) [-]
10.  Common Grackle (8) [10]

 

This second-year female Bay-breasted Warbler is the first one we’ve ever banded in spring, and only one of 10 ever banded at MBO! (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

This second-year female Bay-breasted Warbler is the first one we’ve ever banded in spring, and only one of 10 ever banded at MBO!  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

 

We counted about eight Canada Warblers this week, including the three we banded.  This species has recently been designated as being threatened in Quebec, so we’re keeping a special eye out for them  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

We counted about eight Canada Warblers this week, including the three we banded. This species has recently been designated as being threatened in Quebec, so we’re keeping a special eye out for them (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

 

This after-second-year male Cedar Waxwing felt as soft as he looked   (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

This after-second-year male Cedar Waxwing felt as soft as he looked (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

 

This second-year female Common Yellowthroat benefited from some tick removal – four of them to be precise – which are now winging their way to Ontario for inclusion in the Tick Project that we’re assisting with.  We’re sure she felt much better with these critters removed from around her eye!  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

This second-year female Common Yellowthroat benefited from some tick removal – four of them to be precise – which are now winging their way to Ontario for inclusion in the Tick Project that we’re assisting with. We’re sure she felt much better with these critters removed from around her eye! (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)


 

 

Week 10:  May 30 – June 5, 2008

Our last bird banded for SMMP 2008: we wish this Traill's Flycatcher (likely an Alder Flycatcher because they've been seen singing their heads off over the past few days, and not a Willow is to be found) ... happy trails as it heads towards its breeding grounds!  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Our last bird banded for SMMP 2008: we wish this Traill’s Flycatcher (likely an Alder
Flycatcher because they’ve been seen singing their heads off over the past few days,
and not a Willow is to be found) … happy trails as it heads towards its breeding grounds! (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2006 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded56 (16)828 (64)828 (64)13806 (105)
# birds (and species) repeat10 (8)198 (25)198 (25)2424 (60)
# birds (and species) return2 (2)92 (17)92 (17)423 (30)
# species observed84139139194
# net hours121.52912.22912.224858
# birds banded / 100 net hours4628.428.455.5

 

Bander-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson

Assistants: Jean Beaudreault, Sophie Cauchon, Simon Duval, Nicky Fleming, Céline Lecomte, Barbara and Don MacDuff, Sarah Marteinson, Mike Mayerhofer, Chris Murphy, André Pelletier, Kathleen Sary, Jennifer Smith, Rodger Titman

Notes: Despite losing a day and a half to bad weather, we managed to band 56 birds in our final week, which was only supposed to comprise three days of banding anyway, as per our standard 45-day spring banding season. The rest of the week has consisted of census only. We have finished our 2008 spring season with 10 more birds than at this time last year, for a total of 828 birds banded of 64 species: 124 birds and four species more than last year.

Migration was still going strong early in the week, with three new species added to the season list: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (a new species for the site, let alone year and season), Alder Flycatchers singing everywhere, and Great Black-backed Gull (which was the only species seen in March but not during the spring season – the season and yearly totals are now the same). We even managed to band a new species for the season and year: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Over the last three days of the season, however, numbers dropped dramatically, with residents quickly taking over the morning chorus.

Highlights this week include Jean’s chattering Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on census, a species no one had predicted for the next new species at MBO. It’s too bad it was hanging out so far from any of our nets, because we would have happily banded it as our 106th species, but perhaps next season? A surprisingly late Ruby-crowned Kinglet was another nice little visitor, giggling away past the B/N nets on a very rainy day. The last day of the season, three Wood Thrushes were heard singing pas the B/N nets, well inside the Arboretum. We hope they’ll continue to sing throughout the summer, as deciduous woods without Wood Thrush song are sad woods indeed.

This week’s top 10 banded species list is less of a top 10 and more of a “here’s pretty much everything we banded this week” table. The continued influx of Cedar Waxwing had us scratching our heads, as we were pretty much convinced it was the same flock of 20 birds circling around and around. Well, with a total of 29 birds banded in less than two weeks and not a single recap, our minds have changed and there are likely well over 40 in various flocks. Bird counting isn’t always straightforward, and cases like this illustrate how banding can provide more accurate estimates of migrant numbers! The Blackpoll Warblers were around late into the week, and an additional seven were banded in just 1.5 days of banding, tied with our local Red-winged Blackbirds, most of which either have giant brood patches or cloacal protuberances. Strangely enough, it was only the day after we banded five Traill’s Flycatchers that they started singing, enabling us to guess that our Traill’s were actually Alder Flycatchers. Unfortunately none sang in the hand so the best we can do is speculate. The rest of the list consists of both migrants and breeders with just a few banded of each one, a very similar pattern to last year at this time, and one that justifies our choice of end date for the season.

This week’s top 10 observed species list has again been shuffled, with last week’s top species down near the bottom and vice versa – with the exception of the Red-winged Blackbird. This list is very similar to last year’s and reflects the major breeders in the area, though would likely be a little different if we hadn’t had so much rain this week. The re-entrance of the Song Sparrow indicates a possible resurgence in territorial singing, and certainly the entrance of the European Starling to the list is only due to the massive number of extremely raucous young chasing their parents around the site on June 3rd.

This week’s Top Ten [last week’s rank in brackets]
# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1.  Cedar Waxwing (17) [4]1.  Red-winged Blackbird (36) [1]
2.  Blackpoll Warbler (7) [3]
Red-winged Blackbird (7) [1]
2.  American Crow (14) [6]
3.  American Goldfinch (12) [8]
4.  Traill’s Flycatcher (6) [-]4.  Tree Swallow (12) [5]
5.  Wilson’s Warbler (4) [2]5.  Cedar Waxwing (11) [9]
6.  Tennessee Warbler (3) [-]6.  Yellow Warbler (10) [4]
7.  American Robin (2) [-]7.  Ring-billed Gull (9) [3]
8.  Common Grackle (2) [-]8.  Cliff Swallow (9) [2]
9.  8 species tied with one individual each [1]9.  Song Sparrow (9) [-]
10.  European Starling (8) [-]

 

Just like male and female Black-throated Blue Warblers, male and female Blackpoll Warblers almost look like different species. (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Just like male and female Black-throated Blue Warblers, male and female Blackpoll Warblers almost look like different species.  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

 

Flycatchers always take a little extra time to process since so many of them overlap in appearance and banding is only ever done when species identification is 100% certain.  This Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, though not looking especially yellow in this photograph, passed all measurements with flying colours, confirming our gut feeling that this was no Traill’s Flycatcher!  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Flycatchers always take a little extra time to process since so many of them overlap in appearance and banding is only ever done when species identification is 100% certain. This Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, though not looking especially yellow in this photograph, passed all measurements with flying colours, confirming our gut feeling that this was no Traill’s Flycatcher! (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

SPRING SEASON TOP TEN BANDED  
# individuals banded 2008# individuals banded 2007# individuals banded 2006
Red-winged Blackbird (114)Red-winged Blackbird (154)Red-winged Blackbird (168)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (92)Ruby-crowned Kinglet (55)Common Grackle (59)
White-throated Sparrow (79)American Goldfinch (51)Ruby-crowned Kinglet (55)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (47)Blackpoll Warbler (47)Slate-coloured Junco (47)
American Goldfinch (41)Yellow-rumped Warbler (32)White-throated Sparrow (42)
Yellow Warbler (36)Yellow Warbler (29)American Goldfinch (32)
White-crowned Sparrow (30)Baltimore Oriole (18)Common Yellowthroat (25)
Cedar Waxwing (29)Common Grackle (18)Yellow-rumped Warbler (22)
Common Yellowthroat (25)Cedar Waxwing (17)Magnolia Warbler (22)
Blackpoll and Wilson’s Warbler (24)Magnolia Warbler (17)Yellow Warbler (21)

 

The table above provides a brief preliminary summary and comparison with previous spring migration monitoring seasons at MBO. It reflects both the consistency and inter-year variability that we have noticed throughout the season. Five of the species (Red-winged Blackbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Yellow Warbler) have been among the 10 most frequently banded birds each of the three years. However even these species vary considerably in abundance from year to year – for example, the number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets was identical in 2006-2007 but increased this year, while Red-winged Blackbirds decreased by roughly the same number from last year.

The most notable changes this year, however, were the large number of White-throated and Eastern White-crowned Sparrows remaining late into the season, as well as the influx of Wilson’s Warbler. We have only banded at most 15 during one spring season (2006) so their migration late in the season was quite marked. For more analysis of these and other patterns, stay tuned for the full spring report!

We’d like to thank all our censusers, net assistants, extractors, banders-in-training, supporters and birdathoners for the best spring season yet! We’ll be continuing with summer censuses two to three times per week to keep tabs on our breeders, so if you’d like to participate, please let us know. Happy summer to you all!