McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

WINTER POPULATION MONITORING

Week 4:  November 21-27, 2006

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:



Mourning Doves are always a pleasant surprise when banding.  This young female has
already had an eventful life, as a routine check for fat deposits revealed extensive scarring
on the upper breast, presumably evidence of a narrow escape from a predator.  The
wound appeared fully healed, and the bird was in condition.  (Photo by Marcel Gahbauer)
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  THIS WEEK THIS WINTER 2006 TOTAL SITE TOTAL
# birds (and species) banded 21 (7) 41 (8)

4244 (84)

9297 (96)

# birds (and species) repeat 5 (3) 13 (5)

663 (39)

1541 (52)

# birds (and species) return 1 (1) 1 (1)

129 (22)

198 (26)

# species observed 26 43

159

180

# net hours 23.0 35.0

7569.7

13991.8

# birds banded / 100 net hours 91.3 117.1

56.1

66.4

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge:  Marcel Gahbauer, Marie-Anne Hudson
Assistant
s:  Shawn Craik, Jean Demers, Sabrina Gosselin, Gay Gruner, Betsy McFarlane, Chris Murphy, Greg Rand, Clemence Soulard

Notes:  Considering our frequent complaints about weather in recent weeks, it's only fair to begin this report by saying that conditions were actually very pleasant for most of the week, with lots of sunny skies, seasonal temperatures, and minimal wind.  As a result, we were able to complete our two scheduled weekly banding sessions for the first time this winter season.

That being said, the banding results were not overwhelming.  Both on Wednesday and Sunday, a decent number of birds were in the area, but it seemed like a lot of them were doing a good job of avoiding the nets!  Of course that's always the case to some extent - we just notice it more in winter when our focus is on this one clump of nets, from which we can see the coming and going of birds better than at most locations during migration monitoring.  We know that on any given day we'll miss a good percentage of the birds using the feeders, but over the course of the season we should be able to get a fair sample of the birds overwintering at MBO.

Most numerous among the species banded this week were House Finch (7), Slate-coloured Junco (5), and Mourning Dove (3) - quite a different list from fall.  Chickadees remain relatively scarce, with only 3 previously banded individuals being recaptured this week.

A few more species were added to the winter sightings list this week.  A Northern Harrier was seen during Wednesday's banding session, and the raptor list grew further on Thursday, when a Merlin was observed perched in a hawthorn with a view of the feeders throughout the census period.  On Sunday, a Great Blue Heron was spotted gliding southward over the west slope, and a high-flying flock of scaup went past right overhead.  They might easily have been missed had it not been for all the time we were spending looking up and counting the seemingly endless flocks of Canada Geese - over 1000 for the day, remarkable for this late in the year.  To put this in context, last November Canada Geese were observed on only 5 of the 14 days during which observations were made at MBO, and the peak number among those was just 28!  Needless to say, it was easy for all present on Sunday to agree that it isn't feeling much like winter yet (though lest Mother Nature think otherwise and try to settle the score, that was hardly meant as a complaint!)

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