Spring – 2013

Week 1:  March 28 – April 3, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Mallard It’s spring again at MBO – and this Mallard is one of the many birds already returning or passing through on the way to destinations farther north. (Photo by Simon Duval)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded368 (13)41880 (111)
# birds (and species) repeat71 (7)8052 (70)
# birds (and species) return32 (11)1241 (38)
# species observed353548207
# net hours55.069344.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours669.160.4

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Gay Gruner

Censusers:  Marc Boisvert, Jean Demers, Frédéric Hareau, Lisa Keelty, Barbara MacDuff, Don MacDuff, Betsy McFarlane, Clémence Soulard

Notes: After a busy end to the winter monitoring program, thanks largely to the record influx of redpolls, the start of the official spring migration monitoring program (our ninth consecutive year!) actually provides an opportunity for a bit of a breather. Although census will be taking place daily throughout the ten weeks of the spring program, banding will as usual not kick off until the start of the fourth week (April 18), since it is often too cold in the early weeks to band safely and achieve any consistency in effort and results from year to year. This week’s 35 species observed during census matched the total from the same period last spring. Highlights of the week included American Woodcock, Great Black-backed Gull, and Bohemian Waxwing.

This week’s top 10

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Canada Goose (297)
2. Red-winged Blackbird (37)
3. Common Redpoll (23)
4. Black-capped Chickadee (11)
5. Ring-billed Gull (7)
6. Greater Snow Goose (7)
7. American Crow (7)
8. Northern Cardinal (6)
9. Blue Jay (5)
9. European Starling (5)

The top two species to kick off this spring were no surprise – and in fact, their numbers were very similar to last year, when there was a daily mean of 298 Canada Geese (compared to 297 this year) and 42 Red-winged Blackbirds (37 this year). On the contrary, a key difference this spring was the number of lingering Common Redpolls, enough to claim third place for the week. The remainder of the top ten includes typically modest counts for this time of year of early migrants (Ring-billed Gull, Greater Snow Goose) and residents (Black-capped Chickadee, American Crow, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, and European Starling).

Song SparrowOne of MBO’s faithful Song Sparrows (banded in a previous year) back for another summer. (Photos by Simon Duval)


Week 2:  April 4 – 10, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Turkey Vulture We have had a resident pair of Turkey Vultures at MBO the past few years – this may be one of them, back for another summer. (Photo by Gay Gruner)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded368 (13)41880 (111)
# birds (and species) repeat71 (7)8052 (70)
# birds (and species) return32 (11)1241 (38)
# species observed424756207
# net hours55.069344.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours669.160.4

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner

Censusers:  Nicolas Bernier, Jean Demers, James Junda, Lisa Keelty, Barbara MacDuff, Don MacDuff, Betsy McFarlane, Clémence Soulard, Elise Titman, Rodger Titman

Notes: As usual, the second week of spring migration brought an influx of additional migrants returning to (or passing through) MBO. With last year’s early spring, Wood Ducks were already back before the end of the official winter season, but this year the first sighting was on April 5. This week’s 11 other new arrivals were American Black Duck, Hooded Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin, Belted Kingfisher, Tree Swallow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Song Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark  – the latter quite a rare treat at MBO, with only a few previous observations, all also in spring.

This week’s top 10 [last week’s rank in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Canada Goose (236) [1]
2. Greater Snow Goose (84) [6]
3. Red-winged Blackbird (58) [2]
Ring-billed Gull (14) [5]
5. European Starling (14) [9]
5. Black-capped Chickadee (14) [4]
7. Mallard (11) [-]
8. Slate-colored Junco (9) [-]
9. American Tree Sparrow (9) [-]
9. American Robin (8) [-]

Over the 9 years of spring migration monitoring at MBO, Canada Goose has always been the most abundant species in week 2, although the mean daily count has varied from as low as 60 (in 2010) to as high as 732 (in 2006). This year seems fairly average, with a mean count of 236. Snow Geese were particularly numerous this week, ranking in second place in week 2 for the third time in nine years, but with a higher count than ever before. In five of the other years it was Red-winged Blackbird taking second place. This year the species got bumped down to third place, despite the mean daily count of 58 individuals being the highest ever for the species this early in spring. The remainder of the species in this week’s top ten were all significantly less abundant than the top three. Slate-colored Junco and American Tree Sparrow were new additions this week, although good numbers overwintered at MBO, and many of these individuals may still be the same.

Snowy morningAlthough it is “spring”, the morning of April 5 looked decidedly more like winter! (Photo by Simon Duval)


Week 3:  April 11 – 17, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Wood Duck Wood Ducks are active in the ponds again, as usual in April. (Photo by Simon Duval)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded368 (13)41880 (111)
# birds (and species) repeat71 (7)8052 (70)
# birds (and species) return32 (11)1241 (38)
# species observed475966207
# net hours55.069344.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours669.160.4

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner

Censusers:  Sue Bishop, Jean Demers, Lisa Keelty, Betsy McFarlane, Clémence Soulard, Elise Titman, Rodger Titman

Notes: Week 3 represents the final part of “early spring” at MBO, and typically numbers of migrants continue to build, although there are few species that peak around this time of the season. The first Eastern Phoebe of the season finally was spotted this week, a bit later than usual; on the other hand this week’s sightings of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Chipping Sparrow were a bit on the early side. Rounding out this week’s dozen newcomers were Green-winged Teal, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, and Pine Siskin.

This week’s top 10 [last week’s rank in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Canada Goose (101) [1]
2. Red-winged Blackbird (46) [3]
3. Song Sparrow (13) [-]
4. Black-capped Chickadee (11) [5]
5. Ring-billed Gull (9) [4]
6. American Robin (8) [10]
7. American Crow (8) [-]
8. Wood Duck (6) [-]
9. Mallard (6) [7]
10. Slate-colored Junco (6) [8]

For the seventh time in 9 years, Canada Goose dominated the third week of spring migration monitoring, this year with a mean daily count more than double that of the runner-up, Red-winged Blackbird. Song Sparrow cracked the top three for the first time ever this early in spring, but that in part reflected the overall low numbers of most species this week, as it was only marginally more abundant than some of the other local residents, and there was fairly little in the way of new migrants. Next week will mark the start of the spring banding program, and in addition to the obvious new data that will provide, we expect that observations will also pick up by virtue of more observers being on site for a longer period every morning.

Wolf spiderWildlife is appearing all over, including inside the cabin – like this wolf spider. (Photo by Simon Duval)


Week 4:  April 18 – 24, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Fox Sparrow Fox Sparrows dominated in the first week of this year’s banding program. (Photo by Gay Gruner)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded113 (15)113 (15)481 (22)41993 (111)
# birds (and species) repeat36 (11)36 (11)107 (13)8088 (70)
# birds (and species) return24 (9)24 (9)56 (14)1265 (38)
# species observed677366207
# net hours511.0511.0566.069855.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours22.122.185.060.1

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner

Assistants: Christine Barrie, Richard Beauchamp, Nicolas Bernier, Sue Bishop, Cindy Bouchard, Marie-France Boudreault, Yolande Cossette, Serge Côté, David Davey, Rui de Jesus, Jean Demers, Liette Fortier, Barbara Frei, Monique Groulx, Alison Hackney, Lisa Keelty, Barbara MacDuff, Don MacDuff, Christine Marcoux, Ana Morales, Benoit Piquette, Lisa Rosenberger, Catherine Russell, Ahmad Shah, Marilou Skelling, Clémence Soulard, Elise Titman, Rodger Titman

Notes: The spring banding season got off to a great start, with 113 birds banded this week – the second highest total ever for this period, behind only the count of 141 in 2008. It was also a good week for raptor observations, with six new species for the year – Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, American Kestrel, and Peregrine Falcon. A Field Sparrow on the second day of the week was another highlight, as the species is not observed annually. The other new arrivals this week were Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Wilson`s Snipe, House Wren, Brown Thrasher, Rusty Blackbird, and Purple Finch.

Brown Creeper Brown Creepers are always a rare treat in spring – in 8 previous years, only 8 have been banded. (Photo by Gay Gruner)

This week’s top 10 [last week’s rank in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Fox Sparrow (32)1. Canada Goose (110) [1]
2. Black-capped Chickadee (14)2. Red-winged Blackbird (57) [2]
3. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (13)3. Song Sparrow (26) [3]
4. Song Sparrow (9)4. Fox Sparrow (20) [-]
Slate-colored Junco (9)5. Black-capped Chickadee (17) [4]
6. Red-winged Blackbird (8)6. Ring-billed Gull (16) [5]
7. Eastern Phoebe (5)7. American Crow (13) [7]
7. American Tree Sparrow (5)8. American Robin (12) [6]
7. Swamp Sparrow (5)9. Wood Duck (12) [8]
7. White-throated Sparrow (5)10. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (11) [-]

The spring banding season kicked off this week, and as usual for this time of year, sparrows dominated – although even more than usual actually. For just the second time, six sparrow species cracked the top ten of species banded – the previous occasion was 2008, when Fox Spaarrow was also more than twice as numerous as any other sparrow, and followed by Slate-colored Junco and Song Sparrow. The 32 Fox Sparrows banded this week was a single-week record at MBO. Equally interesting were the 14 Black-capped Chickadees banded this week, given that the previous highest count for week 4 is just 4 individuals, and the species has only appeared in the top ten for this week twice in the previous 8 years. It isn’t the chickadees are uncommon at this time of year, just that through the winter monitoring program it’s very likely that any residents have been banded by the time spring arrives – therefore it’s likely most of those banded this week are migrants headed farther north. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were the runner-up for week 4 in half of the previous years, so it was no surprise to see them round out this year’s top three. The other notable result this week was the high count of Eastern Phoebes – matching our season total for our best ever spring for the species (2006)!

Among the birds observed, the top three remained unchanged from last week, with Canada Goose continuing to dominate (as usual), followed by Red-winged Blackbird and the sustained surge of unusually abundant Song Sparrows. Reflecting the banding results, Fox Sparrow made a strong showing in this list as well, only the third time in our 9-year history that it has been abundant enough in week 4 to appear in the top ten, and with much greater numbers than either previous occurrence (14 in 2008 and 8 in 2010). The species ranked from 5 to 9 this week (Black-capped Chickadee, Ring-billed Gull, American Crow, American Robin, and Wood Duck) were in the same sequence last week except for the crow and robin swapping places, and the whole group being bumped down one spot by the Fox Sparrow. The only other new addition this week was Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a bit more abundant than usual this early in spring.

Brown-headed CowbirdWith breeding birds beginning to settle in at MBO, Brown-headed Cowbirds have also arrived and are beginning to scout out ptoential hosts for their eggs (Photo by Gay Gruner)


Week 5:  April 25 – May 1, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Purple Finch Purple Finches are not banded at MBO each spring, so this male was a nice surprise. (Photo by Simon Duval)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded66 (13)179 (18)547 (24)42059 (111)
# birds (and species) repeat21 (9)57 (13)128 (15)8109 (70)
# birds (and species) return9 (7)33 (12)65 (17)1274 (38)
# species observed678793207
# net hours399.0910.0965.070254.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours16.519.756.759.9

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner

Assistants: Sue Bishop, Marc Boisvert, Salomé Bonnefoi, Marie-France Boudreault, Luke Currin, David Davey, Rui de Jesus, Jean Demers, Barbara Frei, Jo-Anne Gagnon, nathalie Gendron, Monique Groulx, Alison Hackney, Lisa Keelty, Barbara MacDuff, Francine Marcoux, Ana Morales, David Oldacre, Benoit Piquette, Lisa Rosenberger, Catherine Russell, Ahmad Shah, Clémence Soulard, Elise Titman, Rodger Titman

Notes: Spring migration comes in spurts, and overall this week was a bit of a lull. Over the first three days of the week, the only new arrivals for the year were Greater Yellowlegs, Osprey, and Savannah Sparrow. April 29 brought in a bigger wave of birds, with our first Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Least Flycatcher, Barn Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat sightings of 2013. Rounding out the week, we also added American Bittern, Solitary Sandpiper, Cliff Swallow, and Black-and-white Warbler. Banding numbers were unusually low this week, with just 66 individuals banded despite full effort on five days and partial hours (limited by weather) on two others. However, that is actually normal – over the previous three years, the total for week 5 has ranged from 45 to 72 individuals. The only species banded for the first time this spring were House Wren, Common Yellowthroat, and Purple Finch.

Salamander This salamander was a reminder of the other wildlife present at MBO (Photo by Gay Gruner)

This week’s top 10 [last week’s rank in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. White-throated Sparrow (12) [7]1. Canada Goose (183) [1]
1. Red-winged Blackbird (12) [6]2. Red-winged Blackbird (49) [2]
3. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (10) [3]3. Song Sparrow (16) [3]
3. Swamp Sparrow (10) [7]4. White-throated Sparrow (15) [-]
3. Fox Sparrow (10) [1]5. Black-capped Chickadee (13) [5]
6. Eastern Phoebe (2) [7]6. American Crow (11) [7]
6. Song Sparrow (2) [4]7. Wood Duck (10) [9]
6. Slate-colored Junco (2) [4]7. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (10) [10]
6. Purple Finch (2) [-]9. Ring-billed Gull (10) [6]
10. House Wren (1) [-]
10. Golden-crowned Kinglet (1) [-]
10. Common Yellowthroat (1) [-]
10. American Tree Sparrow (1) [-]
10. Fox Sparrow (10) [4]

The top ten list for species banded this week is an odd one for a couple of reasons. Given the small number of birds banded, all of them made it into the table – but even stranger is the big gap between the top five species (10 or more individuals each) and the remainder (only one or two individuals each). Except for 2009, Red-winged Blackbird has always been among the top three species banded in week 5, and this year was no exception. Tied for the lead was White-throated Sparrow, also commonly in the top three, and once previously (in 2008) the number one species for this time of year. Ruby-crowned Kinglet was also a fairly typical top three species. Last week’s influx of Fox Sparrows spilled over into this week, while the 10 Swamp Sparrows this week was a record for this time of year, and an impressive number for a species with a spring season record total of just 19. Among the remainder of the top ten, the most noteworthy result was another two Eastern Phoebes, pushing the species to a new spring season record after just the second week of banding.

The top three species observed were the same for the third week in a row: Canada Goose, Red-winged Blackbird, and Song Sparrow. The goose and blackbird have been 1-2 every spring (except reversed last year), but this is the first time in our 9 spring seasons that Song Sparrow has made the top three for week 5. Last week Fox Sparrow came from out of nowhere to land fourth place; this week it dropped to tenth, but was replaced by White-throated Sparrow. Positions 5 through 9 were again mostly similar to last week, but shuffled a bit. Only American Robin dropped off from last week’s top ten.

Eastern PhoebeAfter missing them two of the past three spring seasons, it was nice to band this Eastern Phoebe this week. (Photo by Gay Gruner)


Week 6:  May 2 – 8, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Pileated Woodpecker This Pileated Woodpecker was just the 8th of its kind banded at MBO in 9 years. (Photo by Gay Gruner)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded82 (22)261 (31)629 (36)42141 (111)
# birds (and species) repeat17 (9)74 (15)145 (17)8126 (70)
# birds (and species) return8 (5)41 (15)73 (19)1282 (38)
# species observed78102108207
# net hours560.01470.01525.070814.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours14.617.841.259.5

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner

Assistants: Christine Barrie, Nicolas Bernier, Salomé Bonnefoi, Cindy Bouchard, Carl Bromwich, Luke Currin, David Davey, Rui de Jesus, Jean Demers, Alison Hackney, Lisa Keelty, Lance Laviolette, Barbara MacDuff, Christine Marcoux, Francine Marcoux, Betsy McFarlane, David Oldacre, Benoit Piquette, Lisa Rosenberger, Catherine Russell, Marilou Skelling, Jillian Slater, Clémence Soulard, Elise Titman, Rodger Titman

Notes: Week 6 has been variable historically, with three years (2006, 2011, 2012) that had a banding total between 141 and 148, and five other years in which it ranged between 37 and 86. This spring fell toward the upper end of the lower range, with 82 individuals banded. Diversity was good though, including 13 species banded for the first time this year: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Tree Swallow, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Common Grackle, and American Goldfinch. Among species observed, the biggest highlights were Carolina Wren (only a couple of previous records) and Evening Grosbeak (another rare and unpredictable surprise at MBO). Rounding out the 15 new arrivals this week were Green Heron, Virginia Rail, Eastern kingbird, Blue-headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, American Pipit, Nashville Warbleer, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, and White-crowned Sparrow.

Chipping Sparrow Chipping Sparrow, a species that began returning to MBO last week, but was only banded for the first time this week. (Photo by Gay Gruner)

This week’s top 10 [last week’s top 10 in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Red-winged Blackbird (25) [1]1. Canada Goose (262) [1]
2. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (12) [3]2. Red-winged Blackbird (60) [2]
3. White-throated Sparrow (10) [1]3. Ring-billed Gull (26) [9]
4. Swamp Sparrow (7) [3]4. American Crow (22) [6]
5. Song Sparrow (5) [6]5. Blue Jay (19) [-]
6. House Wren (3) [10]6. Song Sparrow (15) [3]
7. Nashville Warbler (2) [-]6. Black-capped Chickadee (15) [5]
7. Northern Cardinal (2) [-]8. White-throated Sparrow (12) [4]
7. Chipping Sparrow (2) [-]9. American Goldfinch (11) [-]
7. Common Grackle (2) [-]10. Common Grackle (10) [-]

Last week’s top three species banded were the same again for week 6, albeit shuffled a bit. These have most commonly been the dominant species at this point in spring, so in that sense the season appears to be unfolding normally. The continuing strong presence of Swamp Sparrows in fourth place is a bit of a surprise, already closing in on a new spring record with most of May yet to go. Considering the number of Northern Cardinals banded over the past year, it was surprising to add another two to the list this week, suggesting that perhaps there is some movement going on in spring as breeding territories are established.

For the fifth year in a row, the most abundant species in week 6 were Canada Goose followed by Red-winged Blackbird. Both species increased somewhat in number compoared to last week. Ring-billed Gull jumped up to take third place for the week, as it did back in 2006. American Crows also increased in number this week, while the spring migration of Blue Jays was in strong evidence, landing the species in fifth place for the week. Song Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, and White-throated Sparrow occurred in similar numbers to last week, but dropped down the ranking due to the increases by others. New entries at the bottom of the top ten this week were American Goldfinch and Common Grackle.

Nashville WarblerAbove, a Nashville Warbler, one of the earlier warbler migrants in spring; below, a Yellow-shafted Flicker with one surprisingly red-shafted primary. (Photos by Gay Gruner)

Northern Flicker


Week 7:  May 9 – 15, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

American Woodcock The star of the week – and the season so far – was this American Woodcock, the 112th species banded at MBO to date. (Photo by Simon Duval)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded102 (28)363 (43)731 (48)42243 (112)
# birds (and species) repeat21 (10)95 (18)166 (20)8147 (70)
# birds (and species) return13 (7)54 (16)86 (20)1295 (38)
# species observed88122126208
# net hours407.01877.01932.071221.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours25.119.337.859.3

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner

Assistants: Christine Barrie, Nicolas Bernier, David Bird, Salomé Bonnefoi, Emily Boulanger, Vincent Carignan, Luke Currin, David Davey, Rui de Jesus, Josée Dubreuil, Alison Hackney, Lisa Keelty, Barbara MacDuff, Francine Marcoux, Benoit Piquette, Lisa Rosenberger, Catherine Russell, Jillian Slater, Patricia Stotland, Elise Titman, Rodger Titman, Fernanda Triconi

Notes: Traditionally week 7 is when spring migration kicks into high gear at MBO. Over the previous six years, the number of birds banded during week 7 has ranged from 116 to 221, so this year’s count of 102 seemed a bit on the low side, although in part that reflected two days with minimal effort due to rain. Nonetheless, there were some big highlights, most notably among shorebirds, with our first ever American Woodcock banded (our 112th species overall), as well as just our second Solitary Sandpiper (the first coming almost five years ago, in week 8 of 2008). The White-breasted Nuthatch banded on May 12 was also a rare treat, just the third one ever in spring, while the Savannah Sparrow on May 9 was the first banded in any season since fall 2008!  The other 8 species banded this week that were new for 2013 were Least Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Veery, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Western Palm Warbler, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Baltimore Oriole. Among observations we also had a remarkable sighting, a blue phase Ross’s Goose flying overhead, giving its distinctive call – the 208th species observed at MBO, and not one that we had predicted!  Other highlights among the 20 species observed for the first time this year were Least Sandpiper (the first spring record, and only the third overall for MBO), Pine Warbler, and Bobolink. Here’s the remainder of the list: ??? Gull, Common Tern, Rock Pigeon, Great Horned Owl, Alder Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, Veery, Gray Catbird, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Baltimore Oriole.

Solitary Sandpiper May 15 turned out to be a remarkably day for shorebirds, with this Solitary Sandpiper banded the same morning as the American Woodcock. To put this in context, in MBO’s 8 previous years of operation, the only other shorebird banded was another Solitary Sandpiper, back in May 2008! (Photo by Simon Duval)

This week’s top 10 [last week’s top 10 in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Red-winged Blackbird (24) [1]1. Ring-billed Gull (81) [3]
2. Yellow-rumped Warbler (15) [-]2. Canada Goose (58) [1]
3. Yellow Warbler (10) [-]3. Red-winged Blackbird (56) [2]
4. White-throated Sparrow (9) [3]4. American Crow (24) [4]
5. Nashville Warbler (6) [7]5. Yellow Warbler (14) [-]
6. Common Yellowthroat (5) [-]6. Yellow-rumped Warbler (12) [-]
7. Northern Waterthrush (4) [-]7. Song Sparrow (11) [6]
7. Chipping Sparrow (4) [7]8. Black-capped Chickadee (11) [6]
7. Common Grackle (4) [7]8. Common Grackle (11) [10]
10. Least Flycatcher (2) [-]
10. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (2) [2]
10. White-throated Sparrow (9) [8]

This is the third year in a row that the top two species banded in week 7 have been Red-winged Blackbird and Yellow-rumped Warbler, with the blackbird taking top spot twice in that span (as well as from 2006 through 2009). The advancing season was reflected in the presence of five warbler species in the top ten, actually only the second time that has happened so early in spring (last year there were six species, thanks in part to a five-way tie for 9th place; the species were mostly the same both years, except that Tennessee and Magnolia Warblers made the top ten last year, while Common Yellowthroat missed it). White-throated Sparrow and Ruby-crowned Kinglet have remained dominant at this point in migration in some previous years, but dropped off from last week, especially the kinglet.

For the past four years, Canada Goose has continued its spring reign atop the list of most observed species into week 7, but this year numbers tapered off a bit earlier, and it dropped to second place behind Ring-billed Gull, which dominated week 7 back in 2005 and 2006, but has been less numerous in years since, with daily means for this period ranging from as low as 18 in 2009 to 43 in 2012 – so the mean of 81 this year is quite an increase. Red-winged Blackbird numbers were virtuallly unchanged from last week, but dropped a rank thanks to the increase in gulls; American Crow remained lodged in fourth place. The arrival of the warblers is reflected in this list too, with Yellow and Yellow-rumped entering at fifth and sixth place respectively. The tail end of the White-throated Sparrow migration was enough for that species to cling to the bottom of the top ten this week.

Eastern KingbirdAbove, an Eastern Kingbird providing a rare great view of its red crest (Photo by Simon Duval); below, the first Savannah Sparrow banded at MBO since fall 2008 (photo by Gay Gruner)

Savannah Sparrow


Week 8:  May 16 – 22, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Blackburnian Warbler The rarest warbler this week was this Blackburnian Warbler, just the 22nd banded at MBO, and only the third one ever in spring. (Photo by Gay Gruner)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded266 (40)629 (60)997 (65)42509 (112)
# birds (and species) repeat54 (16)149 (27)220 (29)8201 (70)
# birds (and species) return36 (11)90 (23)122 (27)1331 (38)
# species observed95136140208
# net hours482.02359.02414.071703.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours55.226.741.359.3

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Bander-in-charge: Gay Gruner

Censusers:  Nicolas Bernier, Sue Bishop, Salomé Bonnefoi, Cindy Bouchard, Marie-France Boudreault, Emily Boulanger, David Davey, Rui de Jesus, Barbara Frei, Jo-Annie Gagnon, Nathalie Gendron, Alison Hackney, Marie-Anne Hudson, Lisa Keelty, Francine Marcoux, Betsy McFarlane, Lisa Rosenberger, Catherine Russell, Ahmad Shah, Marilou Skelling, Patricia Stotland, Elise Titman, Rodger Titman

Notes: After stalling a bit last week, the migration floodgates opened this week, especially with respect to warblers. The 266 birds banded this week was the second-highest one week total for spring, behind only the 299 this week in 2009. As in 2009, the influx was driven by a top three of Tennessee, Magnolia, and Yellow Warblers. Also in a similar vein, the 60 species banded to this point in spring matches the high posted in 2009 (although also matched in 2012). That includes another 17 species added over the past week:  Black-billed Cuckoo, Traill’s Flycatchere, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Gray Catbird, Tennessee Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Bay-creasted Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Canada Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Rusty Blackbird. The number of species observed also remains well above average, with 136 so far this spring, just behind the record pace of 138 as of week 8 in 2009. This week’s 15 additions were Black-billed cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Traill’s Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Purle Martin, Wood Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Canada Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Indigo Bunting.

Bay-breasted Warbler Also among the less common warblers at MBO is Bay-breasted – this one was only the seventh ever banded here in spring. (Photo by Gay Gruner)

This week’s top 10 [last week’s top 10 in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Magnolia Warbler (51) [-]1. Ring-billed Gull (53) [1]
2. Tennessee Warbler (38) [-]2. Red-winged Blackbird (51) [3]
3. Yellow Warbler (25) [3]3. American Crow (27) [4]
4. Northern Waterthrush (23) [7]4. Yellow Warbler (20) [5]
5. White-crowned Sparrow (14) [-]5. Cliff Swallow (15) [-]
6. Red-winged Blackbird (11) [1]5. Baltimore Oriole (15) [-]
7. Gray Catbird (10) [-]7. Common Grackle (14) [8]
8. Common Yellowthroat (9) [6]8. Black-capped Chickadee (12) [8]
9.Least Flycatcher (8) [10]9. Canada Goose (11) [2]
10. Nashville Warbler (5) [5]
10. Yellow-rumped Warbler (5) [2]
10. Canada Warbler (5) [5]
10. Lincoln’s Sparrow (5) [2]
10. American Goldfinch (10) [-]

This was the first week this year that Magnolia Warbler was banded – and yet it still managed to take top spot among this week’s impressive list of birds banded – and the same goes for Tennessee Warbler in second place. This week’s count of Magnolia Warblers was in fact greater than any previous full-season total for the species in spring. Tennessee Warbler actually had a slightly higher count this week last year (42) but both Yellow Warbler in third place and Northern Waterthrush in fourth also set single-week records for spring. Another four warblers cracked the list, thanks in part to a four-way tie for tenth place. The most noteworthy of those was Canada Warbler, not just because it is listed under the Species at Risk Act as Threatened in Canada, but also because only once in 8 previous years have we banded more than 5 in a spring season, so getting that many in one week is significant. The count of 14 White-crowned Sparrows this week was also noteworthy, considering that last year the total for spring was only 8, and the year before just 10. The addition of 8 Least Flycatchers this week brings the spring total to 10, matching the record set in 2008.

Ring-billed Gull remained the top species observed this week, slightly edging out the fairly stable number of Red-winged Blackbirds. As has been the case in every previous year, the last flocks of migratory Canada Geese were seen in week 7, and the numbers dropped significantly in week 8. Correspondingly, American Crow and Yellow Warbler each moved up one rank compared to last week. The mean daily count of Yellow Warblers in the previous 8 years has ranged fairly consistently between 12 and 17 during week 8, so the jump to 20 this year is a surprise. After a couple of years when Cliff Swallows were unusually scarce in mid-May, it was encouraging to see them return to the top five this week. More impressive was the record high daily mean of 15 Baltimore Orioles – a delightful abundance of orange and black everywhere!

Black-billed CuckooOverall, this week’s rarest bird was the Black-billed Cuckoo above, only the 8th ever banded at MBO, and just the second in spring (Photo by Simon Duval). Meanwhile, the next generation of birders got a start at MBO this week – see below (photo by Gay Gruner).

Young birders


Week 9:  May 23 – 29, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Magnolia Warbler Magnolia Warbler – dominating the banding numbers at MBO both last week and this week. (Photo by Simon Duval)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded132 (28)761 (68)1129 (73)42641 (112)
# birds (and species) repeat55 (18)204 (31)275 (33)8256 (70)
# birds (and species) return11 (6)101 (23)133 (27)1342 (38)
# species observed94144148208
# net hours324.82683.82738.872028.5
# birds banded / 100 net hours40.628.441.259.2

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Bander-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner

Assistants: Christine Barrie, Nicolas Bernier, Marc Boisvert, Salomé Bonnefoi, Cindy Bouchard, Luke Currin, David Davey, Rui de Jesus, Barbara Frei, André Gagné, Jo-Annie Gagnon, Alison Hackney, Lisa Keelty, Barbara MacDuff, Betsy McFarlane, David Oldacre, Catherine Russell, Marilou Skelling, Fernanda Triconi

Notes: Week 9 was disappointingly quiet, with just under half as many birds banded as in week 8, in part because rain limited banding effort to two full days and three partial ones. On the other hand, diversity was impressive. Another 8 species were banded this spring, taking the spring total to 68 species – two more than the previous record for the season, set in 2009 and matched in 2012. The new additions this week were Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Blackpoll Warbler, and Indigo Bunting. Three of these species (the flycatcher and the two thrushes) were also seen for the first time this spring, as were another five:  Sora, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Philadelphia Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Scarlet Tanager. That raised the season total to 144, well above average and only behind the 148 recorded to this point in 2006.

Canada Warbler A front view of a male Canada Warbler, one of Canada’s threatened species. (Photo by Gay Gruner)

This week’s top 10 [last week’s top 10 in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Magnolia Warbler (14) [1]1. Red-winged Blackbird (33) [2]
1. Blackpoll Warbler (14) [-]2. American Crow (18) [3]
1. Northern Waterthrush (14) [4]3. Yellow Warbler (13) [4]
4. Tennessee Warbler (11) [2]4. Tennessee Warbler (8) [-]
5. Traill’s Flycatcher (10) [-]5. Common Yellowthroat (8) [-]
6. Wilson’s Warbler (9) [-]6. Baltimore Oriole (8) [5]
7. Common Yellowthroat (7) [8]7. Song Sparrow (7) [-]
8. Gray Catbird (6) [7]8. Cliff Swallow (7) [5]
8. Cedar Waxwing (6) [-]9. Blackpoll Warbler (7) [-]
8. Yellow Warbler (6) [3]10. American Goldfinch (6) [10]

Warblers typically dominate the banding results in week 9, and this year was no result even though the numbers were relatively modest. A three-way tie for top spot included last week’s dominant species (Magnolia Warbler) as well as new arrival Blackpoll Warbler, and a continued surge of Northern Waterthrushes – enough to set a new spring record for the species. Tennessee Warbler slipped back to fourth place. For the third year in a row, Traill’s Flycatcher reached double digits in week 9; as usual most of these are likely Alder Flycatchers, but species ID was not determined conclusively for any of them. The remainder of the top ten includes Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, and another three warblers – more Common Yellowthroats and Yellow Warblers, plus the first of this year’s Wilson’s Warblers.

The list of the top birds observed shows how much numbers dropped this week compared to last. Ring-billed Gull was the top species last week, but didn’t even make the top ten this week. Instead, Red-winged Blackbird, American Crow, and Yellow Warbler all moved up one spot to become this week’s top three, although all of them were much less numerous than in week 8. Three more warblers were common enough to appear in the top ten – Tennessee, Blackpoll, and Common Yellowthroat. Remarkably, this was the first time ever that five warbler species appear in the top ten list for species observed in spring, although as noted this is probably more due to the low numbers of other species.

Wilson's WarblerWilson’s Warbler, one of the latest spring arrivals, finally starting to trickle in last week, and with numbers building this week. (Photo by Simon Duval)


Week 10:  May 30 – June 5, 2013

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Canada Warbler A somewhat different looking Canada Warbler this week – a second-year female with pale flecks on the head and upper back. (Photo by Simon Duval)
THIS WEEKTHIS SPRING2013 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded29 (19)790 (68)1158 (73)42670 (112)
# birds (and species) repeat22 (11)226 (33)297 (35)8278 (70)
# birds (and species) return4 (4)105 (23)137 (27)1346 (38)
# species observed77145149208
# net hours240.02683.82738.872028.5
# birds banded / 100 net hours12.127.038.959.0

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Bander-in-charge: Simon Duval Assistants: Marc Boisvert, Salomé Bonnefoi, Luke Currin, Barbara Frei, Jo-Annie Gagnon, Alison Hackney, Jeff Harrison, Lisa Keelty, Betsy McFarlane, Benoit Piquette, Catherine Russell, Patricia Stotland

Notes: The spring season went out with a whimper, the 29 individuals banded this week matching the record low for week 10 set back in 2006, despite the weather improving and allowing full operations for the final three days of the banding program. Although the last couple of weeks were unusually quiet, the season total is actually within a few birds of the mean of all eight previous spring programs. Red-bellied Woodpecker was the only addition this week to the season checklist for species observed. However, that raised the total to 145, well above average for spring, and behind only 2009 (146) and 2006 (148).

This week’s top 10 [last week’s top 10 in brackets]

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
1. Traill’s Flycatcher (4) [5]1. Red-winged Blackbird (32) [1]
1. Wilson’s Warbler (4) [6]2. Cedar Waxwing (19) [-]
3. Gray Catbird (2) [8]3. Yellow Warbler (13) [3]
3. Indigo Bunting (2) [-]4. Cliff Swallow (12) [8]
3. Song Sparrow (2) [-]5. American Crow (9) [2]
3. Baltimore Oriole (2) [-]6. Blue Jay (9) [-]
7. 13 species tied (1)7. Song Sparrow (8) [7]
8. Baltimore Oriole (7) [6]
9. Common Yellowthroat (7) [5]
10. American Goldfinch (6) [10] 10. Common Grackle (6) [-]

Granted, the numbers are small in a week when only 29 birds were banded in total – but this marks the first time ever that a flycatcher has topped the weekly list of species at MBO!  Traill’s Flycatcher shared the honour with Wilson’s Warbler – also a newcomer to top spot, although this marks the fourth time in the past six years that 4 individuals have been banded in week 10. Unlike those two species that almost certainly are late migrants, the four-way tie for third place was occupied by species that are likely all local breeders, reflecting the decision to cut off banding midway through the final week of the season. The remaining 13 species with one bird banded each represented a mix of the two groups, with the late migrants including Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Magnolia and Blackpoll Warblers.

The mean daily count of Red-winged Blackbirds was virtually unchanged from week 9, and the species remained the most abundant on site by a wide margin. Cedar Waxwings finally arrived in good numbers and took second place, while Yellow Warbler maintained its strong showing this spring, hanging on to third place. Cliff Swallow sightings were up a bit this week, while American Crows were unusually scarce. Another wave of Blue Jays came through, bumping them up to sixth place. Otherwise though, the list was rounded out by summer residents – Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, Common Grackle, and American Goldfinch.

And so another spring season has already come to an end!  Thank you very much to the many volunteers who made valuable contributions throughout the season – we look forward to seeing you all again when the Fall Migration Monitoring Program kicks off in just 8 weeks, on August 1. Meanwhile, please check out the trip reports from our various Birdathon teams below, and consider making a contribution in support of your favourite – this is MBO’s most important annual fundraiser, and every bit counts!

MBO Green Team – MBO and surroundings by bike (donate)
Red-eyed Wearios
– eastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec (donate)
Alison Hackney – West Montreal by bike (donate)
Marcel Gahbauer
– southern Alberta (donate)

Indigo BuntingAlways one of the most stunning birds at MBO – a male Indigo Bunting. (Photo by Simon Duval)