January 19th – Cross-country (Snow Bunting) Check-up

Our weighing tube, made from only the finest materials (super-soft toilet paper roll) by Christine Madliger at her factory at the University of Windsor.

Our weighing tube, made from only the finest materials (super-soft toilet paper roll) by Christine Madliger at her factory at the University of Windsor.

Yukon, NWT, Nunavut


Prairie Provinces



Kern's students - Kernels? - still catching outside of New Liskeard.   -J. Goddard

Kern’s students – Kernels? – still catching outside of New Liskeard. -J. Goddard

[January 16th]
Hi Rick, Just getting back from watching some University Volleyball in North Bay…Hope this is not too late.
School of Flock has only banded two days so far but has managed to band 120 SNBU, all males except for three. My students were excited to see the return of 4 birds that were banded in previous years. (three from 2013 and one from 2014) We had a big snow storm this weekend making it impossible to band, but we are hopeful that the birds will be hungry and easy to catch in the traps next week. Murph had his first successful day at our Dawson Point site, banding 21 males and 1 female SNBU. We are actually a little surprised by the lack of LALO this year, as they are typically some of the first birds that we band.
Joanne Goddard and Bruce Murphy
New Liskeard, ON

Bruce Murphy spending his retirement in the pursuit of knowledge - an inspiration to the young scribe who just looks like she's freezing......   -J. Goddard

Bruce Murphy spending his retirement in the pursuit of knowledge – an inspiration to the young scribe who just looks like she’s freezing…… -J. Goddard

Another happy Kernel....   -J. Goddard

Another happy Kernel…. -J. Goddard

[January 15th]
Hi there,
I just wanted to send you a photo of the Snow Buntings on my property; I estimate there are about 120 birds right now and they come and feed every day.
Lise Balthazar
Sheridan Rapids
Lanark, Ontario

PS: I am still desperate to find a bander in our area!!!
Lise's (unbanded) Snow Buntings in Lanark county.  -L. Balthazar

Lise’s (unbanded) Snow Buntings in Lanark county. -L. Balthazar

[January 15th]
Hi Rick
This week things have picked up we banded 98 today (Friday) in 3 hrs, weather was great overcast and hazy, bit of hoar frost, birds were all over the traps at both locations they are about 1 k apart . Have not seen large flocks just small one’s 20 to 30 birds . Not allot of snow cover here yet hopefully will get some more soon. We’re getting a good mix of male and female birds also 1 LALO and 1 HOLA. Also we recaptured a bird from Quebec that was banded last Feb 2015 and we have had one return of our birds banded last Jan 2015.
Happy banding will be back at it tomorrow
Glenn Reed and Theresa McKenzie
King City ON

Hi Glenn and Theresa,
Hope you’re having a good start to the season so far! I just read your post in the blog, 2711-22155 is ours. The bird was banded as an ASY-M on February 6, 2015 at our Coteau-du-lac site by Gay Gruner.
Simon Duval
Coordonnateur / Coordinator
Observatoire d’Oiseaux de McGill / McGill Bird Observatory]

[January 18th]
Hi Rick
Banding slowed right down after the rain on Friday night it melted what snow was on the ground. There is a flock of about 100 around the traps on Saturday and Sunday but they are very nervous and we have only managed to catch 25 . So far were just shy of 200 banded we will keep trying and hope for some snow.
Regards Glenn and Theresa
King City, ON

[January 15th]
Hi Rick,
A total of 36 birds handled today: 34 SNBU’s, 1 LALO, and 1 retrap
(banded by D. Lamble on February 8, 2015 as a SY M)..

My first group of birds I banded were caught within 15 minutes of the
traps been set; a flock of ~100 SNBU’s were in the area and most of
the flock had descended onto the bait site and some into the traps.
Within fifteen minutes though, there was a loud raucous from the
SNBU’s and I looked up to see a NOHA bouncing on top of the traps.
The bird was very persistent and I chased him around the trap site
for awhile until he flew off and landed in the field. I quickly
grabbed some bags and removed the SNBU’s from the traps (I had four
traps set). Shortly after I returned to the van to start banding,
the harrier flew back and landed on the traps. Again, I had to jump
out and scare him away. The flock had scattered ….
By ten-thirty, some SNBU’s had returned and were cautious but
eventually, some stayed to feed and made their way into the traps.
I removed the second group of birds from the traps shortly after
eleven o’clock, but nothing else had ventured back to the bait
site. Another raptor showed up in the form of a AMKE and the birds
were gone, again. That was it. I waited an hour but the birds were
gone and by this time, the temperature were above freezing.

In the first group I banded there were 21 birds – 20 SNBU’s and 1
LALO and in the second group I banded 14 SNBU’s. The SNBU sex ratio
was 19 females and 15 males. This brings our year-to-date banding
totals to …. 73 SNBU’s (F 36 and M 37), 14 HOLA’s and 5 LALO’s
for a total of 92 birds banded.
Nancy Furber Ruthven Park Banding Station
Cayuga, ON

[January 18th]
Cold SW wind swept the fields. Birds drifted into the bait area in small numbers. We ended up banding 16 birds: 11 HOLA’s; 4 SNBU’s (3F’s:1M); 1 LALO. We retrapped 1 LALO banded a couple of days ago.
Rick Ludkin & Nancy Furber
Ruthven Park Banding Station
Cayuga, ON

[January 16th]
Usually, the Snow Buntings arrive at my site around the 15th of December and stay until the middle of March ( depending on the weather ). This year, I banded 18 Snow Buntings on the 24th of November, one of my earliest bandings…….. however, not a single bird in all of December……. they were simply not there because of the “nice” weather. I have baited and attempted to trap every day in January (16 days, as of today) and was only successful on 6 of those days for a total of 344 bird…. my highest daily total was 89 ( on the 4th) and my lowest daily total was 7 ( on the 11th). In 2015, I had banded 1 172 in those same 16 days.
So although over 300 birds is quite a respectable total, it is far below my normal success. I can only hope we get some cold weather and a solid 20 cm of snow.
On the positive side, I have recaptured two birds I banded in March 2014………………..
David Lamble
Fergus, ON

[January 16th]
Putting out some cracked corn today.
Bill Read
Cambridge, ON

[January 17th]
Hi Rick,
Haven’t banded any SNBU yet but there is about 100 coming to my feed pile plus another 150 nearer St. Wiliiams.
A friend of mine had 700+ north of Burford the other day so they are coming.
Also Mark Conboy has banded about 100 down at Long Point.
Dave Okines
Port Rowan, ON

[January 19th]
Hi Rick…I hope this will suffice. I’ll keep better notes on my next outing.
With snow finally arriving in our area – albeit minimal on the ground – mixed flocks of Snow Bunting and Horned Lark have been seen along north shore of Lake Erie. In particular during a birding outing on Jan 15 a flock of 128 SNBU we seen in the company of over 70 Horned Lark. All were making sweeping flights across and brief rests in the corn fields at Stafford Road and Lakeshore Road just east of Port Burwell in Elgin County. A single Lapland Longspur was spotted in their midst. Flocks totaling close to 400 SNBU were also seen on Jan 16th in a number of locations during a birding excursion along the lakeshore between North Road in the east end of Norfolk County and Hunter Road in Port Rowan which is near to the Bird Studies Canada headquarters. The flocks were of varying sizes, settling in corn fields and weedy hedgerows.
Kathryn Boothby & Ron Allensen
Port Burwell (area), ON

[January 18th]
I have not yet been successful luring SNBUs to my preferred location.
I drove around this morning and found only one small flock of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings, approx. 50 birds total.
The snow has all but melted here but more is expected this evening.
Bob Hall-Brooks
Passerine Banding Station Coordinator
Holiday Beach Migration Observatory
[Windsor area]


[January 19th]
Slow but steady so far, some days are better than others !

From Jan 6 to Jan 19, 99 SNBU and 1 HOLA were banded in 9 mornings. Again, the flock is still fairly small for the area. Two interesting recaptures, two SNBU banded in January and March 2014 at Mirabel.
Mirabel Season total: 133 SNBU, 1 LALO, 1 HOLA

Three mornings of banding (Jan 7, 8, 16) produced 61 SNBU and 2 HOLA. The flock is down to about 40-50 individuals daily.
St-Roch Season total: 106 SNBU, 4 LALO, 5 HOLA.

From Jan 14 to 19, four mornings produced zero birds and one morning produced 41 SNBU, 2 LALO and 3 HOLA. Strangely, the flock appears to be either present or completely absent.
Coteau-du-lac Season total: 159 SNBU, 2 LALO, 38 HOLA.

Southern Quebec Teams’ total is now at just 398 SNBU banded, more than 1200 birds behind last year’s pace.

Simon Duval
The Migration Research Foundation
McGill Bird Observatory
Montreal, QC

[January 19th]
Hi Rick!
Not much new happening here since the last post.
I did band the first buntings this week, only 5 though!
I did not have much time for the banding recently, but have two sites baited by people for me where birds have become faithful…
Hoping to have more time and that things will pick up soon!
Marie-Pier LaPlante
Rimouski, QC

[January 16th]
Hi Rick,
Since my last report, we lost a lot of our snow and then got a bit of it back, but there’s been nary an SNBU since the last ones I told you about.
Carl Bromwich
Barnston-Ouest, QC

Maritime Provinces

[January 18th]
Hi Rick,
I’ve mainly been around Western Newfoundland the last few years and have not seen any SNBU this winter.
Bruce Rodrigues
Ecosystem Management Ecologist
Game and Fur Management
Wildlife Division

[January 18th]
As usual there are just occasional scattered reports of buntings along the coast of Newfoundland in winter – this isn’t a big wintering area for them.

Darroch M. Whitaker
Ecosystem Scientist | Scientifique des écosystèmes
Western Newfoundland & Labrador Field Unit | L’unité de gestion de l’Ouest de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador
Parks Canada | Parcs Canada
Rocky Harbour, NL

Beautiful male Snow Bunting at Castalia Marsh, Grand Manan.   -M. Morse

Beautiful male Snow Bunting at Castalia Marsh, Grand Manan. -M. Morse

[January 19th]
Hi Rick, there seems to be small pockets of SNBU on Grand Manan. The earliest reports that I know of were around Nov 7-8th 2015. They have been seen at Castalia Marsh, Hendersons Point (8-10). We did have 4 SNBU on our CBC on Dec20th.
Durlan Ingersoll
Grand Manan Island, NB

[January 18th]
Hi Rick,
We have had very cold weather and still have [no?] snow cover. Yesterday we went to check the lands in Belgium, Wisconsin where we have permission to work this year and saw two large flocks of Snow buntings and Horned larks in different areas. We baited near one of the flocks in hopes of getting them to stay in the area.
Let’s hope they cooperate!

Vicki Piaskowski
Hartland, WI

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