February 27th – It’s Begun!

A hurried shot of one of several large flocks of Tundra Swans that went over this morning.

For the past week or so, there have been numerous reports of migrants moving through the area. I don’t doubt them for a second. But for me, the migration doesn’t start until I actually see it for myself. Today was that day. At Ruthven we were treated to over 200 Tundra Swans in various-sized flocks going over. They were all coming from the NE and heading SW – toward the marshes (and nearbly fields of corn stubble) at Turkey Point and Long Point. You could hear their melodious call long before you could see them – a call that I find very haunting, conjuring up visions of the tundra bursting into life.
We were also treated to the first Killdeer of the year. Both of these sightings seemed early to me so I went back into the log books for the past 3 years. First sightings (at Ruthven) of Tundra Swans for 2011, 2010 and 2009 were: March 12th, March 11th and March 21st respectively. For Killdeer the dates were: March 10th, March 9th and March 17th. So things seem to be about 10 days early compared to the last 3 years.


On Saturday, the 25th, I gave a short update on the Canadian Snow Bunting Network to a gathering of banders (a gaggle?) at the Ontario Bird Banding Association AGM at BSC. The talk generated a fair amount of discussion and enthusiam. But what was really neat was that it brought forward a couple of long-time banders with interesting accounts/recoveries going back many years. For example, Martin Wernhaart, who has banded thousands of them over the years, mentioned the following:
– on February 16/’78, he recaptured a bird that had been banded in Greenland on August 20/’77
– a bird he banded on January 15/’82 was recovered in April ’82 in Kegaska, PQ (east of the Mingan Archipelago on the north shore of the St. Lawrence)
– a bird he banded on December 30/’81 was recovered on March 15/’82 in Walworth, NY (about 50 km SE of Rochester)

And I’d like to send out this email I just received from Bob Hubert (who was also at the meeting):
Hi Rick
Marshall Field asked me to help him band some snow buntings in the area [St. Thomas area] in winter of 1981. We had good luck, We received permission from Environment Canada, J.S. Wendt, to colour mark,using a red dye,(picric acid ) on the wings.The permit was 1981 to Dec.31 1984. Martin Wernaart used a yellow dye in his area and, I believe, Richard Popko used a green dye in the Kingston(?) area. I continued to band on a small number of birds until 1990. I banded an AHY M snow bunting on 11 02 88 at Sparta 42 40 N and it was found dead 05 11 88 Pichards Island, Labrador,NF 49 10 N; 53 20W 9Month 2247km N62 E.
Marshall Field had the earlier banding records. I hope this information is what you wanted.
Bob Hubert

These records further confirm the Southern Ontario – St. Lawrence River – Labrador – Greenland migratory connection that we’ve been finding.


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