January 18th – Cross Country (SNBU) Checkup….Goes International

Gavin B., grade eight student at Kerns Public School and budding bander. -J. Goddard

Vick Piaskowski’s report from Hartland, Wisconsin launches the CSBN into an international organization! Hmmm…does that make us the ISBN? Or is that strictly reserved for books?

I am leaving this evening for a month in Kenya where I will be doing what I do here: study birds. And just think…when I get off the plane in Nairobi, just about every bird I see will be a “new” one for me. Unfortunately there aren’t any Snow Buntings there….or so I’m told.

Joanne Fleet, a budding bander here at Ruthven and ecology pedagogue, acknowledged my leaving by sending me this wonderful poem by D.H. Lawrence:
“When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego, and escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personalities. And we get into the forests again, we will shiver with cold and fright but new things will happen to us so that we do not know ourselves. Cool, undying life will rush in. New passion will make our bodies taut with power. We will stomp our feet with power, and old things shall fall down. We will laugh, and institutions shall curl up like burnt paper.”

Hopefully my body will still be taut with power and I won’t be one of the old things falling down….

Hi Rick,,
Damn difficult finding a SNBU in Queensland. Sorry but I tried! 😉
On a northern continental note in Alberta numbers of SNBU are very low as only a few count circles reported any SNBU observations. Once I get the full picture I will let you know what was reported for our province.
Enjoy your Kenyan trip but stay safe!
Rainer Ebel
Regional CBC Editor
Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut
Bird Studies Canda/National Audubon Society
In Sanctuary Cove, Qld

Hi Rick
There are still about 250 SNBU in and about my silage yard at Love Saskatchewan. They are getting used to the trap but I haven’t moved it right on top of the main baiting spot. We are getting alternating weather between snow and 30 below, so it isn’t great for banding. I did do 49 birds consisting of 1 DOWO, 1 HAWO, 21 CORE, 4 EVGR and 22 PIGR at my feeder station this week.
Cheers to all.
Bert Dalziel


What are you thinking? You won’t find any SNBU in Kenya.
David Hussell
[David, you just never know….]

Works for us have a grand time chap. I am hoping to catch 50 today with some students will let you know . They all disappeared this past weekend due to high temps but they have rediscovered the food albeit in lower numbers hopefully today. Cheers and have a great trip
Bruce Murphy

Hi Rick, A little frustration at the Kern’s Public School banding site in Timiskaming. We started the week experiencing temperatures in the positive digits, a significant snow loss, and a disappearance of buntings. The birds are just beginning to re-emerge and the temps have plunged to the minus 30s! A wee cold for elementary school youngsters to walk to our banding site. We are hopeful that our bird numbers will continue to improve and we will be back to business in the next day or so. Our numbers remain at 74 SNBU and 12 LALO. (attached is a picture of Gavin B., grade 8 student)
Joanne Goddard

HI Rick: we are having our best snbu winter ever so far. It helps that we now have traps and a few locations that are holding birds although they really have not found Joanne’s Kerns site dependably yet. So far this season we are up to 510 buntings and 17 longspurs. Yesterday I managed to band 73 and might have made it to 100 until a shrike showed up in the middle of a field!!!! Our first shrike to bother the buntings. We are looking forward to a productive weekend as temperatures did not allow us to band today. It was -32 when we woke up this morning and only got to -21. Joanne is going to try tomorrow with the class and we are hopeful that they will have some luck although the flock has not reached the numbers that were present before the melt last weekend. A couple of concession roads away there is a flock of about 1000 birds that has not found the corn 5 minutes from her school. All the best around the nation.
Bruce Murphy

Kenya, wow! Pretty exciting.
Over here, in Lanark, Ontario, we still have buntings, approx. 60 of them, feeding on millet.
I will send you another update tomorrow.
Have a fabulous trip!
Lise Balthazar

Just part of the flocks that Line has been able to attract to her farm southeast of Ottawa over the years. -L.Perras

Hi Rick,Here’s a picture that I took this morning. It’s not a big flock and they arrived by surprise. It`s the same thing yesterday morning. And I was surprised, because it was raining yesterday morning and some SNBU came to my station, after that they`re gone.
Line Perras
Russell ON

Sounds good.
There are hundreds of SNBU flitting around in Bruce County but they refuse to enter my traps. Same problem as last year – they won’t (or can’t) find the way into a walk-in ground trap and they seem hesitant to enter the small Potter traps. I’m trying to build a large trap 2’X2′ with a completely open end that can be dropped remotely so if anyone can help with the release mechanism, I’d appreciate it.
We’re under snow squall watch with blowing snow right now so I can’t get any photos until the weekend.
Just a bit frustrated,
Cindy Cartwright


Male Snow Bunting. -S. Duvall

Hi Rick,
That sounds good! Hopefully we’ll have more SNBUs to report!!
Here are a few news from the sites we’re coordinating this year.
Mirabel, QC: The number of SNBU is down from last year. Other people are also feeding on the same road so the SNBU are not as regular to our baiting site. Before we started, we noted that there is at least 6 or 7 banded SNBU at the site, from last year? from somewhere else? Let’s hope we catch them. We managed to band 31 SNBU in two days. Like last year, we’re catching mostly males but from this year’s small sample, looks like there is more ASY birds than last year.
Senneville, QC: New site on the island of Montreal. We had about 100 SNBU feeding at this site in early December. With the warm temperature, most of them have now left before we had a chance of catching any. Hopefully with the snow and cold temperature this weekend, they’ll come back!
Marie-Pier Laplante is also banding for us this year, in Sherbrooke, QC but I’ll let her give her updates as it’s quite a distance from me.
Oh, and here is a few photos, a confusing SY-M wing and two banded SNBU. Feel free to use them if need be.
Simon Duvall

-S. Duvall

Wing detail of a SY-M. -S. Duvall

Bonjour Rick,
Well. -22 is the forecast for tonight; there is snow on the ground again; my banding permit is in the mail. I am ready to band the first snowbirds in the eastern-townships. Yet the flock of 150 birds which was feeding eagerly in Carl’s field at Barnston has disappeared as a result of lousy weather. Same goes for the other site where I hope to get to band some birds as well in Rivière-Ouelle, eastern Quebec: the flock of over a hundred birds present daily since new year has departed last week-eend. But, we are patient and I know they are coming back soon, I can hear their husky rolling rattles already.

P.S. I found this rather diverting 1942 article, published in the bird banding journal, on how to trap snow bunting: http://sora.unm.edu/node/48975
Have a wonderful trip !
Marie-Pier LaPlante

Hi Rick,
I won’t be able to do any SNBU banding this year as I’m still awaiting knee surgery, but as of a few days ago, there are 10 birds in Wakefield, Quebec (25-ish minutes North of Ottawa in West QC). I’m going to connect with my colleagues at CWS to see if anyone can get out to them, but at least nice to know they’re around!
Rachel Vallender
Canadian Wildlife Service

Hi Rick,
Not much happened since last time. Rain poured down, thermometer
raised to +6 and the buntings vanished. They forecast 10cm of snow for
Sunday, so hopefully buntings will reappear soon!
Enjoy the trip to Kenya!
Alex Anctil

East Coast
hi rick. no SNBU here on the west coast of nfld yet!
safe and fun travels to and in kenya! i’m heading to patagonia myself in 3 weeks for a month of trekking. woohoo andean condor!
hopefully the SNBU will still be in nfld when i return in early march :).
Tina Leonard
Deer Lake, NL

Have fun in Kenya. I don’t think SNBU-free fields here in January can compete..
A.W. Diamond
University of New Brunswick

U.S. Midwest
Hi Rick,
Just wanted to let you know that I’m still trying to find snow buntings to work with this winter. I’ve gone to an area that a number of people reported seeing birds, including during the CBC, but they weren’t there any of the days that I was there. All I saw was a couple of horned larks along the road. So I’ll keep trying. The weather was very warm last week (mid-40s F.) and we had a day of rain, so there is not much snow cover around. No snow predicted for the next week or so.
Please keep your fingers crossed that some birds show up in this area and I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you,
Vicki Piaskowski
Hartland, WI

1 thought on “January 18th – Cross Country (SNBU) Checkup….Goes International

  1. Hi Rick,

    I hope you enjoy your trip and see a lots birds. In my area, I have a lots SNBU. That’s bad for me, I’m not a bander yet, but, I am interested to become a bander but not for now.
    Have a good trip and take care.

    Line Perras, Russell, ON

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