McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

SPRING MIGRATION MONITORING PROGRAM

Week 5:  April 25 - May 1, 2005

Welcome to the McGill Bird Observatory weekly report.  Click here for a complete listing of our archives.  Comments or questions are welcome at mbo@migrationresearch.org

PICTURE OF THE WEEK:


An exciting catch at the end of week 4 was this Rusty Blackbird, the first banded at
MBO.  As a rapidly declining boreal species, the Rusty Blackbird is among our top
priorities for monitoring, and after seeing several flocks narrowly miss the nets last
fall, we were very happy to catch and band this male.  (Photo by Marcel Gahbauer)

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  THIS WEEK SPRING TOTAL YEAR TOTAL SITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded 97 (18) 183 (25) 242 (31) 1163 (53)
# birds (and species) repeat 12 (6) 26 (7) 60 (7) 238 (19)
# birds (and species) return 2 (2) 9 (4) 19 (5) 21 (6)
# species observed 55 76 79 147
# net hours 208.0 481.5 539.5 1514.0
# birds banded / net hour 46.6 38.0 45.4 76.8

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Bander-in-charge:  Marcel Gahbauer
Assistants:  Daniel Brown, Shawn Craik, Jean Demers, Robin Goldstein, Gay & Peter Gruner, Marie-Eve Jacques, Barbara and Don MacDuff, Michael Mayer, Betsy Mcfarlane, Anthi Mimidakis, Julia Mlynarek, Chris Murphy, Crissy Ranellucci, Clemence Soulard

Notes:  A somewhat wet week, but nonetheless a very productive one.  Another three species were added to our cumulative site checklist - Black-crowned Night Heron and Northern Pintail in the back pond, and a Northern Mockingbird perching silently near the gate, and later just above the banding station itself.  Meanwhile, we wrapped up the first month of the spring season with 77 species in total, knowing that many more will be arriving over the next few weeks.  Already the first few Yellow-rumped Warblers have trickled in, accompanying the initial wave of White-throated Sparrows and male Ruby-crowned Kinglets. 

It was our busiest week of banding so far this spring, with nearly 100 birds of 18 species banded.  Among these were three new species for the site - Brown-headed Cowbird, European Starling, and Rusty Blackbird.  The latter caused the greatest excitement, as there are relatively few banding stations far enough north to capture Rusty Blackbirds, and as they have been experiencing a rapid and to date unexplained population decline, any opportunity to study them is welcome.  Meanwhile we also continued to band more of our most commonly encountered species, with American Goldfinches pulling into a first-place tie with American Robins at 153 each, as we come today to the end of our first year of operation.

The Wood Frogs have already quieted down somewhat, but the Spring Peepers have remained very vocal on warm days, and we are seeing the Painted Turtles basking on the logs in the ponds more and more frequently.  At least two Muskrats appear to be present, and the local White-tailed Deer are making regular appearances, although so far they have kindly stayed well away from the nets on banding days.  No flowers in bloom yet, but the leaves on many shrubs and trees are growing visibly from day to day, most notably Manitoba Maples, Pin Cherries, Nannyberries, and Elderberries.


A female Red-winged Blackbird with red on the wing?  Yes!  While they often have little
or no red in the coverts, some females do show a substantial amount of colour.  It is
thought that the amount of red may increase with age, but this has not yet been reliably
established.  This is by far the greatest amount of red we have seen on a female banded
at MBO. (Photo by Marcel Gahbauer)

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