February 16th – Got the Urge for Goin’(?)

Canadian music icon, Joni Mitchell, did a great song once titled “The Urge For Goin”. Great tune.

And I was wondering about the Snow Buntings this morning – whether they have reached that point where they are getting the urge. There was still a large flock of birds around first thing but they weren’t driven to the bait site. While some would drop in and check things out, many seemed just as happy scrabbling through the bare patches in the field looking for tasty morsels. We caught a few early but once the Merlin and Kestrel showed up they were VERY skittish and trap-shy. And, really, there was much less need for them to go to the feeding area since there were so many exposed areas for them to forage in.

To me, the interesting thing was the composition of the flock. We caught and banded 21 Snow Buntings. Of these 20 were females. Twenty females to only one male. For the whole season, on average, we have been getting around 1.5 females to every male, so this was a big change. With the warm weather I think that the males may have shifted north. If the warm weather continues, will they keep moving? Last year, our colleague in Fergus, David Lamble, banded a Snow Bunting in early January and it was resighted on April 20th in Greenland. That seems awfully early but for that bird to get there at that time it must have left southern Ontario quite early. Maybe the time has come….

Banded: 21 Snow Buntings, 3 Lapland Longspurs.


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