Cross-Country (SNBU) Checkup-February 9th-



The buntings finally arrived Jan 30, perhaps pushed our way by the storms to the east.  Though there are upwards of a 1000 in the flock, they found an incompletely harvested alfalfa crop across the road, so capture numbers are still low – it has taken a week to get 117 banded.  Glenn has been out every day and also tried baiting at the edge of the alfalfa – the birds came right to it – until traps were added.  He caught a few there, frustratingly few compared to the flock size, but most captures are at the original site. Most exciting were two foreign recaps on our second day out.  The first, a 4-1/2 year old bird, was banded by David Lamble in 2011, when it was an SY.  David says he hasn’t had a return on it since.  The other was banded by Martin Wernaart in St. Williams, ON last March.  Of course with these many SNBU, the raptors are about – AMKE, COHA, RTHA – haven’t had a shrike yet – touch wood!  Today was the best day, in the snowstorm with 45 SNBU plus a CORE.Cheers,

Theresa & Glenn, King Township

The students at Kerns are a little bit like the tortoise in the fable, “Tortoise and the Hare”…slow and steady.  We have been battling some cold temperatures but we have managed to band a few hours in the past couple of weeks.  We have banded 154 SNBU and 4 LALO.  We have had a few interesting returning birds though- We caught 3 Snow buntings on January 29th that we had previously banded on the same day two years ago! We also recaptured a snow bunting that we had banded way back on Feb 23 2012 as a SY M.

At our other banding site at Dawson Point, Bruce Murphy has banded 80 SNBU and caught a David Lamble bird on January 25th that was originally banded on 02/04/2014 as a SY M.


Andrew with a LALO


Joanne Goddard, Temiskaming

 Finally, the first major snow storm of the year and it was just what we needed to kick-start our bunting banding.  Smaller flocks of Snow Buntings were seen throughout the month of January but what we needed was a significant snowfall covering the available food in the fields to attract them to a bait site.  The snow storm hit Southern Ontario on February 01/02 bringing snowfall amounts around ~30 cm.  The temperatures were cold, with blowing snow and we were anticipating that our snow bunting banding season would be starting soon.  We didn’t have to wait long – the very next day on February 03, we were banding Snow Buntings!! The following is an up-date on our five day banding activities.

Banding totals –  SNBU’s: 513   HOLA’s: 7   LALO’s: 3   

Foreign Retraps –  2531 30441,    2561 24603,   2421 78366

Nancy Furber, Ruthven Park Banding Station, Cayuga.

It’s been very snowy and cold here and I still have a flock of about 120 birds at my place. They usually stay until March.


Photo: L. Balthazar

Lise Balthazar, Lanark, Ontario


A flock of 50-60 Horned larks showed up at the bait on February 4 and remained there through February 6. We set the traps early on February 7 in hopes that there would be some Snow buntings mixed in with the Horned larks. However, the birds must have decided to leave, as there were no birds anywhere near the bait/traps on February 7.

Vicki Piaskowski, Hartland, WI


Things are really really slow now in Southern Quebec, except for 1 of our sites! However, we did break last year’s combined total of 2057 SNBU which is very exciting for our 3 teams.

 Mirabel   :   During the period, only 23 SNBU were banded in 11 mornings. The flock is very small and there is lots of food available nearby. 9 recaptures of our birds, most from this year but two were from last year.

Mirabel season total: 655 SNBU, 5 LALO and 1 HOLA

St-Roch :      During the period, 5 mornings of banding produced only 25 SNBU. The flock is quite small (30-40) and doesn’t seem very hungry. We did not get a single recapture during the period.

St-Roch Season total: 843 SNBU and 6 LALO

Coteau-du-lac :     During the period, Coteau was again our busiest site by a wide margin, banding 218 SNBU and 3 LALO. The peak was in the last couple of days (Jan 5 to 7) when 133 SNBU were banded. The flock is present and hungry first thing in the morning, and generally disperse around 8:30. The number of HOLA has declined but about 4 of them are still present daily. Many Snowy Owls in the area as well as up to 9 ravens.

Coteau-du-lac Season total: 569 SNBU, 34 HOLA, 18 LALO and 1 SOSP

Southern Quebec Teams are now at a total of 2067 SNBU banded for the winter.

Simon Duval, the Migration Research Foundation

For me in Sainte-Luce, same story again. Several mornings and afternoons out waiting in the cold, for only 5-10 birds banded each time, despite a very large number of birds present around the bait. These little guys just head to feed out in the field, where there is still plenty of food left, as soon as I put the traps out. I’ll see how that goes, but I might have to find a new site for next year if that goes on! What’s for sure is that I’ll need to find a new place to park… The police gave me a ticket this week while I was out banding, for ‘’having left my car unattended with the doors unlocked on a public road’’! I am now at 98 SNBU’s and 3 LALO’s

Next post planned for February 23rd!!

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