While southern Ontario works slowly toward Spring – Winter just doesn’t want to let go – Snow Buntings are working their way back to the Arctic. Here’s what I have received on their passage.
A few Snow Buntings have indeed reached the Northwest Territories. The first I know of were 3 sightings (single, pair, then group of four) on the Liard Trail (NWT Hwy #7) on Tuesday 18 March, in the vicinity of Blackstone Territorial Park. Others around that time include six at Liard Hotsprings Provincial Park (Alaska Hwy, BC) on 20 March, and two in Fort Simpson, NT on 23 March. All of these are recorded in eBird, if details are wanted.
Doug (Ft. Simpson, NWT)
[And, and update from Doug on April 14th]
Sorry for the late reply; I live in Ft Simpson, NWT, which is at the junction of Liard & Mackenzie Rivers. You had asked for another update – there were a few SNBU in town the weekend of 22-23 March, but then they seemed to fade away as we re-entered winter for a bit. This past weekend I saw a group of 42 here in town on Friday eve, and at least 20 were still around on Saturday. There have been sightings in Yellowknife as well, according to eBird.
Hey Rick, Last bird banded April 1 for a total of 32 birds. April 2 was my last sighting but some seen April5-6 up the north highway on the way to Alaska. Am travelling the highway today and will let you know of other sightings.Have included a picture of myself, not my best but a happy bander.
Finally! The first Snow Buntings in Yellowknife were seen April 8th. Spring is on its way… slowly.
Looks like migration is well on it’s way in the south. I saw you had a Louisiana Waterthrush, that’s so lovely! I’ve never seen one.
Once again, as the snow gradually begins to disappear, I have no SNBUs to report. I just can’t seem to attract them into the area – too much forest, I guess.
Nisbet Banding Station,
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
I’ve still got a few stragglers here near Camp Morton: six the evening of April 10th, three on the 11th, no sight nor sound as of 1130h on the 12th. On the 10th, five of the six appeared alert and strong when accidentally flushed from the feed ground. The “light” coloured individual was reluctant to take off, but did finally make a steady flight to the roost, about 300 feet away. I took these “snaps” on the 10th and 11th. To me they often look a little “off,” perhaps unwell, but I’m just guessing. The unwell girl previously reported in the yard has not been seen again. Several searches under known roosts have not yielded a corpse. From observations of the stragglers (see photos), I suspect she has joined this small drift.
More impressive is a late flock migrating through central Manitoba. Experienced hawkwatchers on the Red, just south of Winnipeg counted 687 (“probably close to 1000”) on the 9th. The same day there were two reports of about 2000 SNBU, one with some LALO, the other with some HOLA about 30 miles southwest of the hackwatch site. This same area (SW of hawkwatch) yielded a report of “a large flock” on the 10th, and a “large swirling flock” of SNBU on the 11th. This suggests to me that the late flock has stalled, resting and feeding until conditions improve. Its currently snowing in, and north of this area.
eBird and other sources indicate sporatic sightings west and north of me, but no more than drifts of ten.
All the best,
Camp Morton, MB
Since my last email we have banded only 5 more snbu. Four male and one female. Banding buntings has been a challenge for us at Kerns: First the spring migration has brought curious hawks and crows to our site, next the warmer weather has exposed corn from the multiple layers of snow we have got this winter making it hard to contain the feed in the traps, and finally the soft snow makes it very difficult to walk to the site….All this being said, the Kerns kids are not wimps! And although their teacher has thrown in the towel for the season, one student has convinced me that he would like to try an experiment. He wants to spread some straw around the site and place fresh corn on top of the straw, to see if we can band the remaining 30 or so birds that are still hanging around cleaning up the emerging corn around the site. So give it up for Tomas who will probably be sitting on a lawn chair on the side of the road watching the traps! I will keep you updated on his success!
Attached is a picture of Tomas with a LALO
Kerns Public School Banding Group
[And an update from Joanne on April 15th]
Hi Rick, we had to close up because of a shrike attack and a kestrel that decided to go after the shrike….all in the matter of seconds! I was not there but the students on site were blown away by the event. We now have a shrike trap set, so the kids are super pumped! But in the couple of hours they were delivering birds to me to band, we caught 16 males and 10 females!! Almost 40%! There were definitely many more females hanging around if we could have continued.
Hi Rick – The snow here in Nipissing District is rapidly vanishing (finally) – and so too seems – the SNBU. Most recently, I saw one at the feeder on the 8th of April. Previous to that, they seemed to show up most days, 25 – 75. I saw more when the weather was wintery – they are aptly named. I’m not sure if they have left the area, or just have not needed the feed the past few days with all the exposed ground. There are many more raptors here now – perhaps the Buntings moved on. Hopefully they will bring their families back next winter!
(35 km SE of North Bay)
The Snow Buntings have been gone for about 3 weeks now and I’ve been wondering where they are by now?
You might find this interesting: we had a very exciting bird sighting in Lanark Highlands at the end of March. A Solitary Sandpiper showed up on the ice floes on the Mississipi River. Of course he was migrating but needless to say he was really early! It caused quite a stir in the birding world! Apparently it’s a record for Ontario. Anyhow, I’m lucky that I live right by the bridge near the spot where the bird spent a lot of time feeding, and I was able to get several good pictures (2 of them are enclosed). Several people have called to get some of my pictures, including Michael Runtz and also Alan Wormington from Point Pelee, who has submitted the sighting to the North American Birds journal. You can also go on ofo.ca (Ontario Field Ornithologists) to see my pictures in the Rare Bird section for March and April. The last time I saw the Sandpiper was on Tuesday, April 8th, which means he was here for at least 10 days!
[Thursday, April 10th]
Last large flock ( 100-150 birds) was at my site on Sunday………. however, by Monday all were gone. So I have been abandoned………..
PS I am now looking at the sparrows and kinglets around my yard…….. D
we were excited to finally hear from the banding lab about our mystery Lapland longspur. it was a bird we had banded Jan 9th 2013 it was recaptured by David Lamble on February 10th 2013 just a month plus a day after we banded him. Interestingly the location was down as Dracon Ontario rather than Fergus. I have not heard of many station to station recaptures of longspurs but I imagine it must happen. Of interest is the kerns kids caught 44 longspurs last year which make the odds of a recapture fairly low but we are celebrating yet another connection between us and David Lamble. Well done Dave and well done kids from Kerns!
[April 16th] – Moosonee, ON
It’s with great pleasure that we join the Canadian Snow Bunting Network from Moosonee, Ontario. The first Snow Bunting sightings occurred at the beginning of April and we managed to band our first two birds on April 6th. Since then, we have been getting larger flocks (20 – 50) and just a couple of days ago we had a flock of over 100. They don’t stick around for very long, but we have managed to get 38 banded so far. Most are ASY males, but we have had a few SY males and three ASY females.
A special thanks to Christina Nielsen, Keith Piette, Jess Plourde, and the students from Northern Lights Secondary School (Moosonee) and Delores D. Echum Composite School (Moose Factory) for assisting in our banding efforts thus far.
It has been very exciting for everyone involved and we are pleased to have expanded the CSBN banding locations to the James Bay Lowlands.
We won’t surpass Lamble’s numbers, but we’re off to a good start here.
Stay tuned for more updates.
While the SNBU hung around to help me achieve a new species count record for my Feederwatch sit the last weekend of March, they flew the proverbial coop together in the days immediately following. I spotted one on April 1st and haven’t seen them since. The snow cover is only a vestige of what it was at the March and spring has truly arrived. Happy bunting hunting to those north and east.
…here are my banding totals for the SNBU season in Cookshire-Eaton :
388 BIRDS BANDED
(9 of which are included here, but were banded at other sites)
7.47 % FEMALE
92. 52 % MALE
AGE BREAKDOWN BOTH SEXES INCLUDED
HY / SY BIRDS (60.57%)
AHY/ ASY BIRDS (39.18%)
UNKNOWN AGE (0.26%)
AGE BREAKDOWN FOR MALES
HY / SY MALE = (60.45 %)
AHY/ASY MALE = (39.28 %)
UNKNOWN AGE MALE = (0.28 %)
AGE BREAKDOWN FOR FEMALES
HY / SY FEMALE = (62.07 %)
AHY / ASY FEMALE = (37.93 %)
Banding season extended over from December 20th to April 1st, with 95 total hours of trapping using one double-compartment trap. There were still 100 birds on April 2nd, then only 5 on April 3rd, which is the last day I have seen a snow bunting here.
See you next week Rick !
Marie sent along this great SNBU-inspired piece:
Tuesday April 1; we have one snow bunting arrive on our lawn in the middle of a major storm hitting Atlantic Canada.
This is Linda Dawson @ 18 Searletown Road, Albany, PEI C0B 1A0. I’ll send you more shots when we counted 20 birds on the front lawn. They move rather quickly & we never could get everyone in the family photo. The visit lasted about 1.5 hours.
Hi Rick – on PEI we were on the first of a two day storm that shut the Island down; completely. The ploughs were even take off the roads for a few hours in the evening. The same carried on the day following. Ending just after 6pm EST. The first bird arrived just after 2pm; for the next 1.5 hours we were entertained with the flow of traffic. So sweet!
Still haven’t seen any in Gros Morne… they should be here any day now if
they’re coming through the area this year. Bird seed is out and being
Rocky Harbour, NL