As you’re well aware (and I’ve tried to make clear), there are few Snow Buntings around due to this abnormally mild Winter, itself a consequence of a record extreme positive cycle in the Arctic Oscillation. For further up-to-date commentary on what is happening with the weather, check out Jeff Masters’ latest blog entry (for January 27th):
But where are the Snow Buntings that we “should” be seeing? As in many other passerine species, males, which arrive on the breeding ground earlier than females in order to establish breeding territories, will often winter as far north as they can to facilitate this early arrival – and beat their rivals to it. If this is the case, then “our” birds should be somewhere between us and Greenland – as we showed through recaptures from the Spring: probably along the St.Lawrence or in Labrador.
So check out this very interesting recapture of a Snow Bunting banded by David Lamble in Fergus on January 8th, 2011:
Band Number: 2411-94171
Species: SNOW BUNTING
Date banded: 01/08/2011
Banding Location: 10 KM E OF ARTHUR, ONTARIO, CANADA
Age: HATCHED IN 2009 OR EARLIER
- Alexandre’s banding site – note the trap in the foreground and the St. Lawrence in the background. -A. Anctil
This bird was recaptured by Alexandre Anctil today(!) just outside of Rimouski. A quick look at an atlas will show you that Rimouski is about halfway between Lake Ontario and Labrador along the south shore of the St. Lawrence Rive.
Also interesting, is that theory suggests that males, again to facilitate their earlier arrival on the breeding ground, will spend the Winter further north and thus closer to the breeding area. Last year David Lamble, who bands ~60 km north of us, got mostly males, while we captured mostly females. Alexandre (and his side-kick, Ludo Jolicoeur) so far have banded 40 and recaptured one; all but one of these have been males.
So, congratulations to Alexandre and Ludo. Just goes to show you the value of networking….