McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

WINTER POPULATION MONITORING

January 1 - 31, 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:



At least two White-throated Sparrows appear to be staying at MBO throughout the
winter, including this one perched near the feeders.
(
Photo by Gay Gruner)


MBO gratefully acknowledges the in-kind support provided for winter 2009-2010 by CCFA (Centre de Conservation de la Faune Ailée) in Montreal, in the form of bird seed to keep the MBO feeders stocked throughout the season.

 

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THIS PERIOD

THIS WINTER

2010 TOTAL

SITE TOTAL

# birds (and species) banded

17 (5)

211 (15)

17 (5)

23526 (105)

# birds (and species) repeat

7 (2)

116 (10)

7 (2)

4348 (66)

# birds (and species) return

1 (1)

7 (4)

7 (4)

621 (37)

# species observed

21

51

21

199

# net hours

8

254

8

39915.2

# birds banded / 100 net hours

212.5

83.1

212.5

58.9

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge:  Simon Duval, Gay Gruner
Assistants:  Mike Beaupré, Gilles Burelle, Christine Burt, Chris Cloutier, Jean Demers, Nicki Fleming, Barbara Frei, Malcolm Johnson, Kristen Keyes, Helen Leroux, Barbara MacDuff, Chris Murphy, Greg Rand, Clémence Soulard.

Notes:  January’s weather ran the gamut, with temperatures ranging from -18° to 2°, moderate to low amounts of snowfall and just over 30 mm of rain. Overall however, the temperatures were mild, allowing eleven days of onsite observation, one day of banding and three very productive days of site maintenance.

Among the species observed in January, highlights included Common Raven (two performing an aerial display worthy of Cirque du Soleil) and a Northern Shrike, who uncannily appeared on our one day of banding (though stayed out of the nets).  White-throated Sparrow and American Tree Sparrow have become regular feeder-area visitors, and were spotted 10 and 9 days respectively out of our eleven observation periods.  House Finch was observed on one day only, contrasting sharply with how frequently they were seen in December. Where did they go? We know relatively little about the movements of House Finch and American Goldfinch during winter. MBO is considering a research project for next winter to gain some insights into their movements. For that matter, the winter movements of Black-capped Chickadees may be interesting too - considering how many we banded in late fall and early winter, it was quite surprising to catch 11 unbanded individuals this month.

Habitat management took front and centre stage this month. Over the past 5 years the cattails in Stoneycroft Pond have increased and were in danger of “choking” the pond. The decrease in open water and lack of channels among the cattails has made the pond less attractive to wildlife for use as a stopover and/or for nesting purposes. Research has shown that if the aerial shoots of cattails are cut as low as possible and a spring flood covers the shoots long enough to block the oxygen supply to the rhizome, the plant will die. Well, we can’t predict the spring flood, but the cattails on the east side of the pond are now cut in readiness of one!  We left the west side untouched for our Red-winged Blackbirds, as that stand has been present and used by them (and others) for many years. Even if this year’s spring flood will not be high enough to cut off the oxygen supply and kill the plants, there will definitely be more open water in the pond for wildlife to use this spring. This back-breaking task was made lighter by the humorous and positive attitude of a super group of volunteers – MBO volunteers are the best! Thank you very much for your time and energy on this important project.

This week’s top 5   [last month's rank in brackets]

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1.  Black-capped Chickadee (11) [-]

1.  European Starling (72) [-]

2.  American Tree Sparrow (2) [1]

2.  Black-capped Chickadee (13) [3]

2.  Northern Cardinal (2) [-]

3.  Slate-coloured Junco (9) [5]

3.  Slate-coloured Junco (1) [2]

4.  Mourning Dove (5) [4]

3.  American Goldfinch (1) [3]

5.  American Goldfinch (5) [-]


Above, Simon Duval and Malcolm Johnson wielding the heavy-duty cutters, and below, a team of others (Christine Burt, Barbara MacDuff, Kristen Keyes, Nikki Fleming) raking up the remains of the cattails. (Photos by Gay Gruner)


Below, the end result of a couple of days of hard work - Stoneycroft Pond actually looks like a pond again!  We eagerly anticipate seeing it fill up in spring - both with water, and hopefully with birds that haven't had enough open water the past couple of years, including the Pied-billed Grebes that formerly nested here.
(Photo by Simon Duval)

 

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