February 24th – The Greenland Connection

Martin Kviesgaard - the Greenland Connection

Let’s face it: banding is only valuable if the banded bird is recovered or resighted somewhere else (or is retrapped at the original site after a period of time). And so, while one of the reasons for getting “the Network” together is to band Snow Buntings and, by doing so, learn about flock age and sex composition, another is to get people excited about looking for banded birds. A clear example of this was last year. I had been talking to Brian Dalzell (who tragically died suddenly in December) in New Brunswick about the project. Brian was really well-connected with the birding community on the east coast and he talked to his birding friends in Newfoundland-Labrador about it. And we got feedback about band recoveries in Labrador almost right away.

The Nuuk area - taken April 21, 2011 - the day before Bill Read's bunting was resighted there. - M. Kviesgaard

And now we have established a great contact with Martin Kviesgaard in Greenland (which raises the question: should the “Canadian” Snow Bunting Network become the “International” Snow Bunting Network?). I recently asked Martin if he would kindly send some pictures of the area where the birds were resighted and also some of himself so we could put a face to the name. And he has. Thanks Martin!! Note that several birds were resighted in the Nuuk area and one in the Oqaatsut area (Disco Bay).

Oqaatsut (Disco Bay Area) in April. One banded bunting was resighted here. - M. Kviesgaard

Life in March in Nuuk - picture taken from Martin's house. - M. Kviesgaard

Martin's house in Nuuk. The infamous feeder is to the left. - M. Kviesgaard

Martin - July 2010.

My philosopher Grandmother used to run off this old adage whenever I was getting antsy: “Patience is a virtue; professed by many, possessed by few.” It seems that patience is paying off for Bruce Murhpy and his co-banders and students in Timiskaming this week. Here’s some of the exchanges I’ve had with Bruce over the past couple of days:

Two very excited banders.

Hi Rick:
Can you please add this to the blog? After being disappointed family day by the lack of birds, they returned Tuesday afternoon in very good numbers allowing Joanne Goddard and her class along with Shelbey Hearn our other licensed snow bunting bander to experience the excitement of it all. They had the best day we have ever had banding buntings in Timiskaming with 42 snow buntings and 15 lapland longsopurs being banded. The grade 7 and 8 Students of Kerns Public estimated the flock at close to 300 and there was a great deal of activity around the traps with many birds entering and leaving the traps before banders could get to them. We were quite shocked at the number of lapland longspurs being captured and felt we had been very lucky with the 1 we had previously banded .

Shelbey and some Kerns Public students are banding while I type this Thurdsday morning at 9:10. The last text I received was good news with 10 more being banded and 14 in the traps ready to be gathered up by the banders and the studentsI will hopefully have good news to report before we head to the Ontario bird banding Assocaition annual general meeting and conference where we will gather with other snow bunting banders and get some helpful hints on becoming better at this. We are hooked. All the best across the network. Should anyone wish to come and join us and tweak our traps and set up please get in touch. Bruce Murphy

Hi rick: I just heard from Shelbey they have banded 8 lalo and 14 snbu this morning and have had 2 lalo retraps wow we are on our way thanks for all of the help see you in a couple of days Murph. love the blog

Hi Rick: Shelbey and Jo have packed it in for the day and the 2 day total was 106 birds 24 lapland longspur and 82 snow buntings. They caught 9 lalo and 42 snbu today. We are slowly figuring it out I guess a flock over over 200 birds helps that. See you at OBBA. Murph

Gavin and Shelbey with a Snow Bunting.

Februaary 23rd:
They got 57 yesterday: 42 snbu and 15 lalo; and 49 today: 40 snbu and 9 lalo for a grand total of 82 snbu 26 lalo. They are very excited – we have been waiting for this !!!

And from Fergus Nicoll in the Ottawa area earlier this week:
Hi Rick,
An update.

It appears that some birds have returned to portions the Ottawa area. My trap site in Stewartville, near Arnprior was up from a flock of 10-20 to a flock of greater than 400. The Flock at Karen’s near Carleton Place, has all but disappeared, mind you.

I managed to get out on the weekend since the flock has increased and banded another 36 birds. Again all males but a mix of SY and ASY (almost 50/50).

So my total is up to ~ 80 birds so far.

Take Care,

4 thoughts on “February 24th – The Greenland Connection

  1. I think an international designation is merited! Large flocks of SNBU were common this winter at the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area on the New Jersey Shore. There is an active scientific community on site there, which almost certainly includes someone with an interest in ornithology. Next time I am in the area (my parents live there), I will investigate!

  2. Also, after our first real winter storm, the SNBU numbers are way up in the Eastern Townships of southern central Quebec. I look forward to a visit from the folks at the McGill Bird Observatory in the near future.

  3. Do you think you can pass the CSBN (ISBN?) on to the folks in New Jersey. It would be great to get them involved. Let us know (and send pictures!) if the McGill folks are able to get any birds.

  4. The information (link) is being disseminated by the New Jersey Audubon Society and by Bird Conservation Wisconsin. We can cross our fingers that some banders down there get the snow bunting bug. And I will definitely forward some photos if Simon and Gay find the time to come and trap some buntings in Barnston Ouest.

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