Cross-Country (SNBU) Checkup- December 28th- We need more snow!


Another Arctic creature calls the bait area home. This snowy owl has been a regular visitor within the last week in Ste-Luce. Photo MP Laplante



 (December 27th)

We still have no SNBU winter flocks near our site, not surprising with the warm temperatures and no snow.  The closest observations I have heard of a flock of about 50 birds in the Ravenshoe Rd. area approximately 20 km away.  Another report in the same area was of a “large” flock. We’re looking forward to hearing how Quebec, Temiskaming and others are doing.

 Theresa, King City, ON


(December 27th)

We continue to have unseasonably warm temperatures and no snow, so no Snow buntings have been sighted at any of the sites we hoped to work at this year. Hopefully this will change in January! Best,

Vicki Piaskowski, Hartland, WI


(December 28th)

Everything was going smoothly until the white stuff melted…


From Dec 16 to Dec 23, 108 SNBU and 1 LALO were banded. Some days were better than others but the peak was on Dec 23 with 36 SNBU banded. Unfortunately, that’s when the rain started and after a few days of rain, the fields were bare again.

Some interesting recaps at Mirabel included:

 -2421-91860, banded on Jan 23, 2013 in Arthur, ON

-SNBU banded at St-Roch on Dec 13 2014 and caught at Mirabel 10 days later (30km)

-3 SNBU banded last winter at Mirabel were recaught

-1 SNBU banded in Jan 2013 and that was recaught in Jan 2014 was recaught again, 3rd consecutive year in the area, or passing through the area.

Mirabel Season total: 187 SNBU, 1 LALO


Map showing the location of the three banding stations of the S.QC. teams


St-Roch has been our most productive site this year, even with a similar effort to the other sites (about 1,5h each day). Since this site is more to the east, we think the birds find this one first, refuel and don’t need to stop at Mirabel, only 30 km west. Looking back at the March migration last year, the opposite was also true. From March 22 to 31, 572 SNBU were banded at Mirabel while St-Roch only did 68 SNBU with similar effort. Interesting!

Back to this year, from Dec 14 to 23, 341 SNBU and 4 LALO were banded. Besides 3 days, all the other were in the 40 to 50 birds banded range, peaking on Dec 23 with 60 SNBU, again just before the rain started. The field in which we work is now flooded and we’re not sure how we’re going to handle that, hopefully a lot of snow is on the way!

Some interesting recaps at St-Roch included:

 -2411-99683, banded on Jan 8 2014 in Port Rowan, ON

-1 SNBU banded in Mirabel on Dec 18 was recaught only two days later in St-Roch (30km going back east)

-1 SNBU banded in Coteau-du-lac on Dec 12 was recaught ten days later in St-Roch (70km going back east)

St-Roch Season total: 481 SNBU, 4 LALO


Another really diverse two weeks for Coteau-du-lac with 90 SNBU, 9 HOLA, 5 LALO and 1 SOSP. Flocks have been from various size but it was getting better towards the end, with 38 SNBU banded on Dec 22. Some Song Sparrows have been visiting the bait site, even escaping from the traps until finally one was caught this week. Unfortunately there again the snow all melted and the flock is gone. Not only is this site very good for HOLA and LALO, it also has the highest female percentage this year by a wide margin with 38%.

Coteau-du-lac Season total: 119 SNBU, 24 HOLA, 12 LALO and 1 SOSP.

So this brings our Southern Quebec Teams to a total of 787 SNBU banded. Everything is at a standstill now, we need snow!

Simon Duval, Migration Research Foundation

(December 28th)

In the highlands of Sainte-Luce near Rimouski, the last 2 weeks have been exciting. The bait site area turns out to be an even better spot for snow buntings than I had imagined.

Standing on the roof in between feeding bouts. Photo MP Laplante


SNBU’s love to feed…across the road from the bait. Photo: MP Laplante

Several large flocks (sometimes up to a thousand birds, with quite a few LALO) remained in the area. They have been wavering -over and around-, -over, around and over again- the traps, uncertain and timid. It just makes me go crazy to have these hundreds of birds around and not catch anything! I think more snow is needed for things to get busy. I am thinking to give some kind of other trapping method a try next year (woosh-net?), at least for December. Yet I did band the two first birds on December 21st: 1 SNBU and 1 LALO, so that was nice.

With the rain and warm weather, same story here as in Montreal area for now though: fields are bare and everybody is gone…


Solitary SNBU hanging out on the top of roof, longing for the company of his friends and for the snow to return. Photo:MP Laplante


A nice Christmas gift received: hand-made SNBU-inspired clock.


May you or other people you might know be interested in participating in a snow bunting census project, please have a look at the following website:

The data collected will be used to assess the influence of snow depth on snow bunting’s abundance, as part of my research project. You can download the field protocol on the website to have more information on the project.

And one last thing to check out is the new facebook page for the CSBN that Simon Duval has created! Thanks to this initiative, more people will be able to find us on the web and learn about our activities!

*** We’ll do another post in two weeks from now, please send me the news you would like to share by January 10th

Happy new year to all! May your lives filled with joy and your traps with buntings!


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