Week 9:  September 26 - October 2, 2007

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The wave of Eastern White-crowned Sparrows moving through this week made for some easy
banding: ageing is done in mere seconds by looking at the head, since hatch-year birds have
tan/brown crowns and adults have the regular white/black crown.  If only all birds were this easy!
(Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)






2007 TOTAL


# birds (and species) banded

311 (33)

1519 (71)

2303 (83)

11621 (102)

# birds (and species) repeat

72 (17)

373 (39)

488 (44)

2037 (59)

# birds (and species) return

0 (0)

42 (12)

127 (24)

327 (29)

# species observed





# net hours





# birds banded / 100 net hours





Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei
Assistants: Jean Beaudreault, Kristen Brochu, Veronik Campbell, Sophie Cauchon, Shawn Craik, Diane Demers, Jean Demers, Kait Farrell, Peter Hall, Jeff Harrison, Gay Gruner, Joelle Guillet, Helen Leroux, Alex Liautaud, Barbara MacDuff, Alyssa Macleod, Jennifer MacWilliam, Mike Mayerhofer, Sophie Mazowita, Annie-Claude Paradis, André Pelletier, Leigh Piercey-Brunet, Greg Rand, Katleen Robert, Marc-André Robert, Emilie Roy-Dufresne, Stephanie Steves, Anna Solecki, Krystal Swift, Rachel Theoret-Gosselin, Shona Watt

Notes:   This week was our biggest week of the year so far, by over 100 birds!  This increase is largely due to the 112-bird day on Friday, but overall there were noticeably more birds around this week despite some unseasonably warm temperatures (maybe the seasonably cool start to the week helped).  Granted even this busy week involved over 200 fewer birds than the rush we faced at the same time last year, so the trend of a quieter-than-usual season continues.  On the other hand, it’s getting more and more difficult to add new species to our seasonal lists since we’ve had a great season in terms of species diversity (if not individual abundance).  This week, however, we were able to add Pine Warbler and American Tree Sparrow to our observed species list.  We missed out on new species banded though, for the first time this season. 

Though we’re still banding lots of warblers, a distinct shift in our bird-life has occurred, and is visible in the top 10 list of birds banded.  The sparrows are taking over!  Whether it’s White-throats (still leading the pack), White-crowned (vaulting up to third spot), Song or Swamp (both reappearing in large numbers after laying low for a while), or the more elusive Lincoln’s and Chipping Sparrows, the sparrows have a definite foothold at MBO.  We’re also in the midst of a Black-capped Chickadee invasion, with increasing numbers of young birds being banded on a daily basis.  Time will tell what this coming week will hold -- perhaps more peck-happy friends?  The northeastern population has shown a tendency to move south in much larger numbers in "odd" falls over the past decade or so, and we experienced a big movement in 2005, so this might be the start of something.

As was noted in last week's report, the scarcity of Yellow-rumped Warblers this fall is very noticeable in comparison with 2006.  In fact, comparing just this week, they alone account for almost the entire difference in bird volume between the two years:  236 banded in week 9 last year versus just 12 this year (in comparison, there were 309 birds of other species in 2006 and 298 in 2007). Also of note, Ruby-crowned Kinglets last year at this time were outnumbering White-throated Sparrows in the nets by a 2:1 ratio and this year that has been more or less reversed.  However, the kinglets have in the past few years tended to peak around Thanksgiving, so the next week should give us a better sense of their numbers this year.

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

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1.  White-throated Sparrow (96) [1]

1.  Canada Goose (433) [2]

2.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (45) [3]

2.  American Crow (106) [1]

3.  White-crowned Sparrow (22) [-]

3.  Red-winged Blackbird (75) [10]

4.  Black-capped Chickadee (16) [7]

4.   White-throated Sparrow (60) [4]

5.  American Goldfinch (15) [2]

5.   Common Grackle (56) [3]

6.  Song Sparrow (15) [4]

6.  American Robin (42) [5]

7.  Swamp Sparrow (13) [8]

7.   Blue Jay (28) [8]

8.   Yellow-rumped Warbler (12) [-]

8.  Black-capped Chickadee (22) [7]

9.   Blue-headed Vireo (8) [-]

9.   Ruby-crowned Kinglet (15) [-]

10.   American Robin (6) [-]
10.   Western Palm Warbler (6) [7]
10.   Slate-coloured Junco (6) [-]

10.  American Goldfinch (15) [9]

The top 10 observed list is fairly similar to last week’s, with the blackbirds holding their own across the board, unlike last year, when both Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds were very scarce during this period.  The number of Canada Geese going over on a daily basis is always nice to see, their honking advertising their presence well before they come into view.  If only all species were that cooperative with our observers!  Blue Jay numbers this week are also noteworthy, with nearly 30 per day being well above normal numbers at MBO.  Large flocks of them have also been seen streaming alone the northern shorelines of Lakes Ontario and Erie over the past week, reflecting an unusually significant flight for this irregular migrant.

Exciting news on the owl front!  Our first effort since October 2005 netted us a third-year Northern Saw-whet Owl on Sunday night.  We’ve heard from other observatories that this is a great year for owl banding, so our resident owl-man Shawn Craik decided to give our owl program a try.  Fingers are crossed that this little guy/girl is one of many!  (Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Where there are babies, there’s usually a momma lurking somewhere nearby.  Barbara reported that this huge Snapping Turtle was very well behaved and amazingly nimble. (Photo by Barbara Frei)



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