McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

WINTER POPULATION MONITORING

March 1 - March 27, 2013

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 MONTH:


Common Redpoll
Common Redpolls remained the most abundant bird by far in March
.
(
Photo by Simon Duval)


MBO gratefully acknowledges the support provided for winter 2012-2013 by Bird Protection Quebec, in the form of bird seed to keep the MBO feeders stocked throughout the season.

 

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THIS MONTH

THIS WINTER

2013 TOTAL

SITE TOTAL

# birds (and species) banded

271 (13)

800 (20)

368 (12)

41880 (111)

# birds (and species) repeat

54 (7)

212 (14)

71 (8)

8052 (70)

# birds (and species) return

16 (7)

54 (11)

32 (11)

1241 (38)

# species observed

33

44

39

207

# net hours

44.0

197.5

55.0

69344.7

# birds banded / 100 net hours

615.9

405.1

669.1

60.4

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge:  Simon Duval, Gay Gruner
Assistants:
 Nicolas Bernier, Jean Demers, Monique Groulx, Alison Hackney, James Junda, Lisa Keelty, Clémence Soulard

Notes:  This March was decidedly more winter-like than last year, when record-high temperatures persisted for nearly a week in the middle of the month. Nevertheless, somewhat milder conditions and melting snow allowed us to be more active at MBO than in February, with 14 visits in total, including 5 that included banding effort.  We added five species to the list of birds observed this winter: Killdeer, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Horned Owl, Rock Pigeon, and Brown Creeper.  That resulted in a total of 44 for the season, the lowest since the winter of 2007-2008, and likely reflecting the particularly cold and snowy conditions this winter and the later onset of spring, delaying the arrival of early migrants until after the season's end.  Among the new sightings this month, the Great Horned Owl was notable as it is nesting only ~150 m outside the MBO boundary this year, and the Brown Creeper was signing in the pine tree right in front of the cabin, a rare treat as we rarely hear them on site.

Hoary Redpoll
Among the many Common Redpolls present at MBO this winter, there were also a few Hoary Redpolls like this one.
(Photo by Simon Duval)

Common Redpolls remained abundant throughout the month, as reflected by the whopping total of 227 banded - more than four times the total of any previous full winter!  The influx was at its peak on March 24, when we banded 96 of them in one day (and with just 8 net hours of effort)!  At long last we also banded a Hoary Redpoll on the final day of the season, only the second in MBO's history.  Three other species were also banded for the first time this winter:  Mourning Dove, Hairy Woodpecker, and Purple Finch.  Also of note, we had our first ever return of a Common Redpoll, recaptured on March 27, and originally banded in early December (so it may have been present throughout the winter).  Fueled by the many Common Redpolls (340 in total), the 800 birds banded this winter nearly doubled the previous season record of 449 individuals banded.  The 20 species banded this winter also set a new record for the season, although just by one. 

This month’s top 10   [last month's rank in brackets]

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1.  Common Redpoll (227) [1]

1.  Common Redpoll (45) [1]

2.  Black-capped Chickadee (10) [3]

2.  Canada Goose (13) [-]

3.  American Tree Sparrow (6) [3]

3.  House Finch (10) [2]

3.  Slate-colored Junco (6) [2]

4.  Red-winged Blackbird (10) [-]

3.  House Finch (6) [3]

5.  Black-capped Chickadee (10) [4]

6.  American Goldfinch (5) [-]

6.  Slate-colored Junco (9) [3]

7.  Northern Cardinal (3) [-]

7.  American Crow (9) [8]

8.  Downy Woodpecker (2) [-]

8.  European Starling (6) [-]

8.  Hairy Woodpecker (2) [-]

9.  Bohemian Waxwing (5) [-]

10.  Mourning Dove (1) [-]

10.  Northern Cardinal (4) [6]

10.  White-throated Sparrow (1) [3]

 

10.  Purple Finch (1) [-]

 

10.  Hoary Redpoll (1) [-]

 

As discussed above, Common Redpolls absolutely dominated the nets this month, in large part thanks to northbound flocks moving through in the final week of the season.  Surprisingly, Black-capped Chickadee took second place - either some wintering birds managed to avoid us until now, or this represented an early northbound migration of some of the population that we saw heading south last October.  A few more American Tree Sparrows and Slate-colored Juncos were banded - also perhaps overwintering birds or early migrants.  A few more House Finches rounded out the tie for third place.  American Goldfinches started to return, with five individuals banded.  Despite the abundance of Mourning Doves earlier in winter (and their relative scaracity this month, falling out of the top ten species observed), the only one of the season was banded this month.

The mean daily count of Common Redpolls remained almost exactly the same for the third month in a row, although the average doesn't reflect the inflated numbers in the last few days of the season (135 on March 24, 80 on March 26, and 130 on March 27). Flocks of 100 Canada Geese on March 26 and 60 on March 27, plus a few small groups earlier were enough to vault them to second place for the month.  House Finch continued its surprisingly strong late winter run, hanging on to third place, followed closely by the returning Red-winged Blackbirds (all males for now).  Bohemian Waxwings were relatively scarce this winter, but cracked the top ten for March thanks primarily to a flock of 40 on March 16 and another group of 25 on March 27.

White-throated Sparrow
It was a good winter for White-throated Sparrows at MBO, with 8 banded over the course of the season, and at least a couple of individuals observed near the feeders during most visits throughout the season
.
(Photo by Simon Duval)


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