McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

SPRING MIGRATION MONITORING PROGRAM

Week 2:  April 4 - 10, 2010

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

PICTURE OF THE WEEK:



April showers might bring May flowers, as the saying goes, but in our case they also
help fill up Stoneycroft Pond, which is looking better than it has in years thanks to
habitat maintenance work this past winter.
(Photo by Gay Gruner)

 

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THIS WEEK

THIS SPRING

2010 TOTAL

SITE TOTAL

# birds (and species) banded

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123 (10)

23632 (105)

# birds (and species) repeat

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30 (4)

4371 (66)

# birds (and species) return

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9 (3)

629 (37)

# species observed

37

37

47

199

# net hours

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66

39973.2

# birds banded / 100 net hours

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186.4

59.1

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge:  Simon Duval, Gay Gruner
Assistants:  Mike Beaupré, Gilles Burelle, Chris Cloutier, Shawn Craik, Jean Demers, Diana Deakin, Ian Deakin, Rejean Duval, Barbara Frei, Peter Gruner, Malcolm Johnson, Lance Laviolette, Helen Leroux, Barbara MacDuff, Don MacDuff, Betsy McFarlane, Francine Marcoux, Eve Marshall, Chris Murphy, Greg Rand, Mark Romer, Bonnie Soutar, Alex Stone, Rodger Titman, Clémence Soulard, Diana Wood, Mieke van der Heyde, Claude Villemagne.

Notes:  Week 2 began with high temperatures, but ended with cool, wet and windy weather. Nonetheless, we added ten species to the spring list: Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Fox Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Purple Finch and House Finch. Six of those species were new for the year, bringing the 2010 species total to 53.

A pair of Green-winged Teal has been regularly observed in the back west dike this week.  At times, you can have Wood Duck, Mallard and Green-winged Teal in the binoculars simultaneously. The three species swim calmly in the pond together, apparently quite content to share the habitat.  This is in strong contrast with the pairs of Canada Geese that come to scout the ponds. The geese are quite aggressive with one another, squawking and flapping vigorously at each other, not to mention sending the more peaceful ducks into the air.


Since MBO's inception, the "magic tree" on the northeast edge of Stoneycroft Pond has been a favourite perch for countless birds, ranging from Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to Yellow-shafted Flickers to Merlins to large flocks of American Robins and mixed flocks of blackbirds.  Unfortunately, being dead this entire time and increasingly rotten, it was a matter of time until it toppled, and this week a strong wind storm snapped the main stem near the middle.  Some other main branches remain for now, but it will be a strange adjustment to not scan the main stem for birds anymore.
(Photo by Gay Gruner)

Eight of this week’s top ten species also ranked in last week’s top ten, with the exception of Cedar Waxwing and European Starling.  Most of the other species in this week's list have also been in the Week 2 top 10 in years past.

This week’s top 10  

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

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1.  Canada Goose (60) [1]

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2.  Red-winged Blackbird (35) [2]

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3.  American Crow (21) [4]

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4.  Cedar Waxwing (15) [-]

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5.  Black-capped Chickadee (13) [6]

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6.  Song Sparrow (11) [8]

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7.  American Robin (11) [5]

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8.  Wood Duck (8) [7]

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9.  Ring-billed Gull (3) [10]

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10.  European Starling (3) [-]

Saturday was MBO’s Maintenance Day and it was extremely productive!  A HUGE thank you to the 20 hearty and bird-loving folks who turned out to help. The road, trails and net lanes are clear, a hefty layer of gravel was applied to the muddy sections of the census path, the nestboxes were cleaned and mapped (Tree Swallows were house-hunting even before the day was over), and the cabin had a thorough spring cleaning.  We learned more than we could ever wish to about wheelbarrow repair, with two flat tires and one broken handle reduced our working wheelbarrows from four to one.  Many thanks also to the Ecomuseum who generously provided a tractor and a driver to move the tons of gravel closer to the start of the trails.


The first Garter Snake of the year coming out to bask on one of MBO's boardwalks.
(Photo by Gay Gruner)

While our main goal is to observe and count the birds that are present, we also note interesting flora and fauna.  Bloodroot, Trout Lily and Wood Violet are growing in patches along the census route. Shrubs such as Hobblebush and Elderberry are blooming and Horsetail Ferns are poking up everywhere.  At least three species of frogs are singing in the ponds, painted turtles and garter snakes are basking in the sun, and, for the first time since 2004, a beaver has been observed in the pond.


A key part of our maintenance day was resurfacing our trails with gravel, and we were very grateful this time to have some motorized help from the Ecomuseum.
(Photo by Gay Gruner)


Of course many of MBO's trails are narrow, so the only way in was by wheelbarrow; thankfully with a great turnout of volunteers the load could be shared.  Out by the road, Alex and Lance filled up a new load, while over on the west side of Stoneycroft Pond, Helen and Bonnie took a break from raking gravel along the census trail.

(Photos by Gay Gruner)

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2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.