Cross-country Snow Bunting Checkup, Mar 9th, 2014

Hello folks. Sorry that it has been so long since the last post. It seems this season is winding down for some, so perhaps we’ll have to plan more regular updates next year. Simon Duval suggested updates that happened in pre-specified intervals, so that the various members know when to send updates that will be posted in a timely manner. Hopefully this can happen.

The 2014 CSBN newsletter has been released, and can be downloaded by clicking this link: CSBN NewsLetter 2014

Here is a news clip featuring the Snow Bunting banding efforts of the CSBN, and the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory. If the hyperlink doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your browser:

Also, Theresa McKenzie sent this interesting link.


Banding Updates

Nancy Furber – Ruthven Park Banding Team (Southwestern ON)- Feb 16th, 2014

Hello Everyone,

The first half of the month of February has brought ideal conditions for attracting and trapping SNBU’s. Enough snow cover to be effective, but not too deep to be a problem, and cold temperatures. Some days, the conditions for the banders have been brutal, with strong winds, and COLD bone-chilling temperatures BUT that’s what keeps the birds coming so it’s a bit of a trade-off. Traps were set at our bait site and after eight steady days of trapping, a total of 1,352 birds were handled! This included banding a total of 1,133 Snow Buntings, 56 Horned Larks, and 3 Lapland Longspurs. Plus, an additional 160 retraps. We had two big days, banding over 200 Snow Buntings each day. A couple days have been gorgeous, with the clear/ cold sunny conditions and no wind to to blow snow and close off the tunnels. The biggest day was on February 14, where the birds just poured into the traps right from the start and a total of 219 Snow Buntings were banded.

As of Saturday, February 15, our season-to-date banding totals are: 1,145 SNBU’s 144 HOLA’s (Horned Larks) and 12 LALO’s (Lapland Longspurs). This is our biggest season for banding Horned Larks; has anyone else banded this many this year?

Included with the retraps have been a number of foreign band numbers. I love getting foreign retraps but what was really exciting was catching TWO of our own birds that I banded in January /February 2013. Last year, we had so few days or opportunities to band because of the lack of winter weather. We only banded a total of 268 Snow Buntings for the winter of 2013.

Here is a list of the foreign band numbers for Snow Buntings we’ve handled this winter:

2291 25079
2291 25364
2291 25767
2291 25295

2421 79376
2421 73375 – banded on left leg

2571 37490
2571 37487

2531 18560

2581 77430

2661 83228

8041 78910

It looks like there may be a couple more days left for banding buntings before the weather changes. The long-range shows warmer temperatures and some rain by Thursday, February 20th.

Nancy Furber
Ruthven Park Banding Team
Cayuga, Haldimand County


Here is the final update from the HBMO East Harrow Station:

Greetings all! It would seem that our banding season has come to an abrupt end, down here in “the banana belt”, aka Essex County. We banded a total of 15 days, from January 10 through February 18, 2014.

We did band some other species besides “The Big Three”, ie: ATSP, SCJU, SOSP, WCSP, BHCO (1), and MODO but I am not including those here.

672 of The Big Three were banded, as follows:
Lapland Longspur — 26
Horned Lark — 238
Snow Bunting — 408, exceeding our previous record of 342 set back in winter 2010/2011.

The SNOW BUNTING breakdown is as follows:
SY Females, 124 (30%)
ASY Females, 45 (11%)
SY Males, 179 (44%)
ASY Males, 54 (13%)
Unknown, 6 (2%). These were likely ASY F or SY M.

I am going to try to gather photos of the confusing and/or unknown SNBU to include in a near future post. Oliver Love told us that we DO get some “weird” looking SNBU down here….And he’s correct, because we’ve had them!

February 18, 2014 was a banner day here. Unfortunately it was our final day of banding, unless more birds come back this way. However, on the flip side, it was an exciting day as Oliver Love and Paul Pratt joined us to do an interview about Snow Buntings for the CTV Windsor evening news. I am hoping that either Jeff or Oliver will be able to post a link to the interview or to the HBMO Facebook page so anyone interested can view it.

What a fantastic and fun year it has been for winter banding, thanks to Old Man Winter, frigid temps, and plenty of snow! Can’t wait to hear how other stations have faired. Interestingly, we had just the 2 foreign recaps, back on Jan 26 and Jan 29, which have already been posted.

HBMO East Harrow station

A photo shared by the HBMO:
snbu in flight
Simon Duval – McGill Bird Observatory
Feb 27th, 2014

Hi Jeff,
Here are some news from our sites in southern Quebec
Mirabel: Up to 525 SNBU, 2 LALO banded for the winter, things are going good there. Liette Fortier is doing an awesome job. On Valentine’s Day, we recaptured an old male banded by David Lamble in December 2010, pretty cool recap!
St-Roch: This is my site, now standing at 234 SNBU banded, not bad for a first year. 1 HOLA was banded in mid-February which was a first for the site.
Coteau-du-lac: This is Gay Gruner’s new site with the help of Lisa Keelty, Alison Hackney and Greg Rand after abandonning their old site in Hudson with only 16 birds banded there in January. The new site has produced much better results. Since February 1st, 200 SNBU, 6 LALO and 2 HOLA have been banded.

So collectively, the southern Quebec team stands at 975 SNBU, good winter so far!



Marie-Pier Laplante – Cookshire-Eaton, Eastern Townships, Qc
Feb 16th, 2014:

Hi Jeff,

The flock in Cookshire had increased to 70 birds yesterday! Wow, it is such a gift to wake up to the sound of these marvelous birds.Waiting for their share of fresh food every morning, they whistle harmoniously in the apple trees. The first rays of light on their white belly and their graceful fluterring fill my heart with such joy. Watching them brings calm and peace to my life and I am so thankful for their delightful winter presence in my backyard!

I was wondering how long more I could manage segregating the blue jays and sparrows from the buntings… So far, it had worked fine. The snow-birds seemed to be happy feeding in the orchard, which is about 200 feet away from my house, while the other feeder birds fed in front of the house… Around noon, after 10 minutes that I put the trap out yesterday, I caught 4 birds. I therefore had great expectactions for the rest of the day. Yet right after this catch, they finally found the food in front of the house and fed there for the rest of the day. They have not returned to the bait until 3pm, litterally 5 minutes after I decided to remove the trap! While it was quite beautiful to watch their feeding frenzy from up close, I stopped putting corn in front of the house today so they will have no other option than finding the tunnel next time… Surprisingly, I have only counted 6 birds today (Feb 16th).
I banded 30 from this flock now.

I have also tried trapping at two other sites last week where flocks of about 70 were feeding in people’s backyard (Barnston-East and Stoke) without much success.

Have a good day!


March 5th, 2014:

Hi everyone,

I banded 25 more snow buntings today in Cookshire, which pushes my total to 97. I recaught one of ‘’my’’ birds that I had banded one week ago.

I have also tried trapping last week-end in the bas-st-laurent area (rivière-ouelle) where I estimated at least 250 buntings in the area. I baited a new site there for the time of my visit but only caught 4 buntings and two lapland longspurs.



Benoit Gendreau – Berthier-sur-Mer, QC

Hello Jeff!

The cold temperature bring many bird around Berthier-sur-Mer. Each mourning I had more than 300 SNBU feeding at my baiting site.

I don’t have many time to band…. I’m trying to put de trap outside at least once a week…

Total for the winter: 250 SNBU and 2 LALO

They are mostly adult male, but yasterday I caught a female!

à bientôt,

Benoit Gendreau


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