Winter Population Monitoring – 2015 to 2016

November 7-30, 2015

 
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One of a record-breaking 15 Purple Finches banded at MBO during this period (Photo by Simon Duval)

One of a record-breaking 15 Purple Finches banded at MBO during this period (Photo by Simon Duval)

]

THIS MONTHTHIS WINTER2015 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded 328(14)328 (14)5238 (93) 58440 (119)
# birds (and species) repeat 130 (9)130 (9)1189 (64)11838 (86)
# birds (and species) return 25 (6) 25 (6) 217 (34)1889 (51)
# species observed 3535164 212
# net hours82.5 82.510665.9 113040.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours 397.6397.649.0 51.3

Banders-in-charge: Nicolas Bernier, Simon Duval, Gay Gruner
Assistants: Pascal Berthelot, Martha Bromby, Alison Hackney, Marcel Lebeau, Phillip Mercier, Patricia Stotland, Christiane Tremblay

Notes: For the first time, the fall season was officially extended by one week, to end on November 6. As a consequence, winter has been shortened by one week. The shift was made because evidence over several years showed that migration was still going strongly for several species during that week – so we expect that winter numbers will be somewhat lower with the ‘loss’ of that period, but this represents a better partitioning of the seasons overall.

Despite November being shorter than usual, it was a very productive period at MBO, probably in large part to the unusually mild temperatures. Banding took place on 7 dates between November 10 and 26, and on all but two of these occasions, over 40 birds were banded; the total of 328 was well above the long-term mean of 194 for November. Of note, American Goldfinches were abundant throughout the month, Purple Finches were in unusually high numbers, and Ruffed Grouse were seen on almost every visit, in sharp contrast to their scarcity outside of winter. Pine Siskin was the only bird banded during this period that was new for the year. A particular highlight was an apparent hybrid Canada Goose x Snow Goose seen flying overhead and later observed and photographed by others on Lac St-Louis near McGill University’s Macdonald campus.

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

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
 1.  American Goldfinch (218) [2] 1.  Canada Goose (377) [1]
 2.  Slate-colored Junco (35) [5] 2.  European Starling (82) [3]
 3.  American Tree Sparrow (15) [3] 3.  American Robin (52) [2]
 3.  House Finch (15) [-] 4.  American Goldfinch (42) [9]
 3.  Purple Finch (15) [10] 5.  American Crow (37) [6]
 6.  Northern Cardinal (11) [4] 6.  Mourning Dove (35) [7]
 7.  Mourning Dove (5) [-] 7.  Black-capped Chickadee (17) [10]
 8.  Black-capped Chickadee (4) [9] 8.  Slate-colored Junco (11) [-]
 9.  Blue Jay (2) [-] 9.  Red-winged Blackbird (9) [4]
 9.  White-throated Sparrow (2) [5]
9.  Common Redpoll (2) [-]
9.  Pine Siskin (2) [-]
 10.  Northern Cardinal (8) [-]

American Goldfinch was the most commonly banded species this month, as is typical for November. However, the margin of separation from other species was much greater than usual. Even though the November monitoring period at MBO was one week shorter than in the past, more American Goldfinches were banded than during any previous year. In fact, the 218 individuals banded over the course of the 7 November banding sessions nearly equalled the record high season total of 228 in winter 2012-2013, and had it not been for the reclassification of the seasonal schedule, the 22 American Goldfinches banded in week 14 of fall would have resulted in a new winter record already – but we trust that will come anyway in December, given recent results. The runner-up for November, Slate-colored Junco, was present in slightly below average numbers, consistent with this year’s fall results.

A three-way tie for third place featured an unusually low number of House Finches, a fairly average count of American Tree Sparrows, and a record high of Purple Finches – more of them banded this month than in the previous ten winter seasons combined! Also surprising was Northern Cardinal – the 11 banded matches the previous single-month high for winter (November 2011) but is particularly impressive in light of the record count of 36 banded this fall, indicating an unusually large movement of the species over the past couple of months. Rounding out the top ten were a late migrant (White-throated Sparrow), a few local wintering species (Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee), and a couple of winter finches (Common Redpoll and Pine Siskin).

With respect to observations, Canada Goose numbers remained high for most of the month, far ahead of all other species. Compared to the last week of fall, European Starling and American Robin swapped positions in rounding out the top three. American Goldfinch numbers increased in November, while American Crows dropped off a bit, but both were common enough to make the top five. The most notable result was Mourning Dove, with the mean daily count of 35 individuals the highest for any period at MBO since the record of 36 in week 13 of fall back in 2005. The other species in the top ten were represented in somewhat smaller numbers: Black-capped Chickadee, Slate-colored Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, and Northern Cardinal.

Despite a record count of Common Redpolls flying past l’Observatoire d’oiseaux de Tadoussac in October, few seem to have made it as far as Montreal yet, with this being one of just two banded at MBO this month (Photo by Simon Duval) Photo: 16wi03_PISI… Also scarce so far this winter are Pine Siskins, with just two banded at MBO as well (Photo by Simon Duval)

Despite a record count of Common Redpolls flying past l’Observatoire d’oiseaux de Tadoussac in October, few seem to have made it as far as Montreal yet, with this being one of just two banded at MBO this month (Photo by Simon Duval)

Also scarce so far this winter are Pine Siskins, with just two banded at MBO as well (Photo by Simon Duval)

Also scarce so far this winter are Pine Siskins, with just two banded at MBO as well (Photo by Simon Duval)

 


December 2015

 
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American Goldfinches are always common at MBO in winter, but this year they are being banded in unprecedented numbers (Photo by Simon Duval)

American Goldfinches are always common at MBO in winter, but this year they are being banded in unprecedented numbers (Photo by Simon Duval)

]

THIS MONTHTHIS WINTER2015 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded 195(11) 523(14)5433(93) 58635(119)
# birds (and species) repeat126(10) 256(11)1315(65) 12016(86)
# birds (and species) return14(6) 39(7)231(34) 1903(51)
# species observed 29 39 164212
# net hours 69.0151.510734.9 113109.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours282.6345.250.551.7

Banders-in-charge: Nicolas Bernier, Simon Duval, Gay Gruner
Assistants: Pascal Berthelot, Alison Hackney, Marcel Lebeau, Christiane Tremblay

Notes: Weather remained unusually mild through most of December, and there was minimal snow cover until just before the end of the month. As such, banding was possible on seven of the eight visits this month, and December’s old record high of 155 individuals banded was raised by 40. The 29 species observed fell a few species short of setting a new record, but was still well above the long-term mean of 23 for the month. Four of those species were new for this winter, with the most surprising of them a late Hermit Thrush. The other three were Hairy Woodpecker (surprisingly missed in November), Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Bohemian Waxwing. Unsurprisingly, no birds this month were newly observed or banded for 2015.

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

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
 1.  American Goldfinch (148) [1] 1.  Canada Goose (310) [1]
 2.  Slate-colored Junco (13) [2] 2.  European Starling (89) [2]
 3.  American Tree Sparrow (12) [3] 3.  Mourning Dove (37) [6]
 4.  Black-capped Chickadee (9) [8] 4.  American Goldfinch (32) [4]
 5.  Purple Finch (4) [3]5.  Black-capped Chickadee (17) [7]
 6.  Northern Cardinal (3) [6] 6.  American Crow (7) [5]
 7.  House Finch (2) [3]7.  Slate-colored Junco (7) [8]
 8.  Mourning Dove (1) [7] 8.  Pine Siskin (5) [-]
 8.  White-breasted Nuthatch (1) [-] 9.  Blue Jay (4) [-]
 8.  White-throated Sparrow (1) [9]
8.  Common Redpoll (1) [9]
 9.  American Tree Sparrow (4) [-]

Even more so than in November, American Goldfinch dominated the December banding results, accounting for 76% of all birds banded. The running total of American Goldfinches banded this winter is now 366, already far above the previous season record of 228. Combined with only 54 repeats to date, this illustrates just how many goldfinches are moving through the region – were it not for banding them, it would be easy to assume that a more modest-sized flock had simply settled in the area for the season. For the second month in a row, Slate-colored Junco and American Tree Sparrow were ranked second and third, respectively. Banding 9 Black-capped Chickadees this month was a bit of a surprise; it may be that residents from nearby areas are mixing with some of our locals in wintering flocks, and coming to the feeders as a result. Despite the surprisingly high numbers of Purple Finch and Northern Cardinal banded in November, there were more again this month, ranking fifth and sixth, yet House Finches remained unusually scarce, and landed in seventh place with just two individuals banded. A four-way tie of singletons this month accounts for the remaining species: Mourning Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, White-throated Sparrow, and Common Redpoll.

Due to the persistent mild and snow-free conditions, Canada Goose numbers barely dropped from November levels, and remained far greater than any other species. European Starling also stayed in second place, but last month’s third ranking species (American Robin) largely disappeared in December, with only 6 sightings over the course of the month. Instead, Mourning Dove rose to third place, with the highest ever mean daily count for the species, building slightly from last month’s result. American Goldfinch numbers dropped a bit but remained in fourth place, while the mean daily count of Black-capped Chickadee was unchanged, but the species moved up to fifth place due to other species becoming scarcer. Most notably, the mean daily count of 7 American Crows was far below fall numbers, but similar to the low counts in recent winters. Small numbers of Slate-colored Junco, Pine Siskin, American Tree Sparrow, and Blue Jay rounded out the top ten.

Although no Red-breasted Nuthatches were detected this month away from the nets, there were 4 repeats, far more than usual (Photo by Simon Duval)

Although no Red-breasted Nuthatches were detected this month away from the nets, there were 4 repeats, far more than usual (Photo by Simon Duval)

 

Taking advantage of the snow-free conditions, we pruned some vegetation around the old windmill tower to improve the efficiency of the solar panels powering our Motus antennas – which this fall detected shorebirds tagged along James Bay in Ontario and thrushes from l’Observatoire d’oiseaux de Tadoussac – details to follow in our 2015 program report (Photo by Simon Duval)

Taking advantage of the snow-free conditions, we pruned some vegetation around the old windmill tower to improve the efficiency of the solar panels powering our Motus antennas – which this fall detected shorebirds tagged along James Bay in Ontario and thrushes from l’Observatoire d’oiseaux de Tadoussac – details to follow in our 2015 program report (Photo by Simon Duval)

 

 


January 2016

 

A sunny but cold winter day at MBO, good for observations, but not for banding (Photo by Simon Duval)

A sunny but cold winter day at MBO, good for observations, but not for banding (Photo by Simon Duval)

THIS MONTHTHIS WINTER2016 TOTALSITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded 54(3)577(14) 54(3) 58689(119)
# birds (and species) repeat33(3) 2389(11)33(3)12049(86)
# birds (and species) return 1(1)40(7)1(1)1904(51)
# species observed274027212
# net hours 12.0163.512.0113121.7
# birds banded / 100 net hours 450.0352.9450.051.7

Bander-in-charge: Nicolas Bernier
Assistants: Pascal Berthelot, Claude Cloutier, Jean Demers, Jean Gregson, Richard Gregson, Alison Hackney, Tom Kingsbury, Clémence Soulard, Christiane Tremblay

Notes: Along with the new year came a return to relatively seasonal weather. While snow cover remained fairly modest for most of January, allowing for good site access, it was often too cold for banding, and there ended up being just one banding session on the final day of the month.

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

# individuals bandedmean # individuals observed daily
 1.  American Goldfinch (49) [1] 1.  American Goldfinch (26) [4]
 2.  Black-capped Chickadee (4) [4] 2.  Black-capped Chickadee (16) [5]
 3.  White-breasted Nuthatch (1) [8] 3.  Slate-colored Junco (9) [7]
 4.  Cedar Waxwing (7) [-]
 5.  Mourning Dove (7) [3]
 6.  Northern Cardinal (6) [-]
 7.  Blue Jay (5) [9]
 8.  American Tree Sparrow (5) [9]
 9.  American Crow (2) [6]
 10.  Downy Woodpecker (2) [-]

As has been the pattern this winter, American Goldfinches continued to absolutely dominate the banding results, this month comprising 91% of the total. However, movement seems to be slowing down a bit, as there were also 20 American Goldfinch repeats (i.e., individuals recaptured on January 31 that were banded earlier in winter). The only other species banded this month were Black-capped Chickadee and White-breasted Nuthatch.
Observations this month reflect the considerable change in conditions between December and January. December’s most abundant species (Canada Goose) was not observed at all in January, and last month’s runner-up (European Starling) went from a mean daily count of 89 in December to a total of 3 sightings across all 12 January visits. Mourning Dove numbers also dropped considerably, back to average levels for January, enough for fifth place this month. Instead, American Goldfinch and Black-capped Chickadee shifted up into the top two spots this month, followed by Slate-colored Junco. Cedar Waxwing was somewhat of a surprise in fourth place, although this is the fourth time (also in 2008, 2011, and 2012) that the species has been absent or scarce in November and December, then surprisingly numerous in January. It was seen on 5 of the 12 visits this month, peaking at 30 individuals on January 24. The bottom half of the top ten comprised regular winter species in small numbers.

Although no American Tree Sparrows were banded this month, this one captured as a repeat provided a rare contrast to the steady stream of American Goldfinches in the nets (Photo by Nicolas Bernier)

Although no American Tree Sparrows were banded this month, this one captured as a repeat provided a rare contrast to the steady stream of American Goldfinches in the nets (Photo by Nicolas Bernier)

 

White-breasted Nuthatches are year-round residents at MBO, but are an uncommon capture and pleasant surprise in any season (Photo by Nicolas Bernier)

White-breasted Nuthatches are year-round residents at MBO, but are an uncommon capture and pleasant surprise in any season (Photo by Nicolas Bernier)