January 30th – X-Country (SNBU) Checkup

Males in flight.   -B. Maciejko

Males in flight. -B. Maciejko

This topsy turvy Winter (in southern Ontario at least) seems to be swinging back to real Winter – Nancy Furber (see her report below) was able to band another 40+ SNBU’s on Saturday after a 2-week hiatus. But looking at the reports from across the country it seems that most of the action was around Quebec City where Benoit Gendreau banded a whack of them and…..he got 3 foreign retraps!! See his reports below. You could just sense his excitement (and enthusiasm)! He’s been able to locate the origins of 2 of them but we need help with the 3rd one:
Brilliant ASY male.  -A. Clavette

Brilliant ASY male. -A. Clavette

- A. Clavette

– A. Clavette

Hi all,
Not sure whether you have all seen this on Facebook, but we are curious to find the bander of SNBU band # 2661 – 90046, recaptured near Quebec city on the 27th by Benoît.
Let us know if this bird is one of yours!
Marie-Pier LaPlante
UQAR, Rimouski, QC

Yukon, NWT, NU


Prairie Provinces

A lone female, bottom front.   -B. Maciejko

A lone female, bottom front. -B. Maciejko

January 22, 2017
Hi Rick,
Sorry I missed the Check-up call. Had a crazy exhausting week for all kinds of reasons. I’m just taking a break from moving large piles of melting snow, pulled earlier from my roof, away from the foundation.
We’ve gone from a two week string of sub-arctic weather, with highs in the -20’s along with snow and strong winds, to several days of above zero temps, including over night for the past two. Snow cover has shrunk by over 12-16 inches, but still well over a foot of cover even in the open. That cover is now mush which collapses with a splushy splash when walked through.

During the cold spell the Snow Bunting flock held at 150-200, with nearly 300 once just after a blizzard. Since the warm-up began those numbers dropped to 60-100, with a flock of 70 all through yesterday (21st).

The Snow Buntings become active quite early and I usually hear flight calls and calls from birds in the woods well before first light. This morning started with dead calm and fog and a temperature of plus 1. A few twittering calls were heard at sunrise (the only twitter I want to hear about by now), but only one Snow Bunting was seen at the bait. It’s now just after 10a.m. and I’ve seen or heard nothing else from them.

I’m attempting to attach a few photos which you can use, or not, at your discretion. If ever something in particular strikes your fancy on my facebook page, just ask and I’ll try to send you a copy. (The one with the “buried” birds was taken an hour after a blizzard had ended, at -24C in a strong NW wind.)

All the best,
Bill Maciejko
Camp Morton, MB

Breasting the storm.   -A. Clavette

Breasting the storm. -A. Clavette

January 27, 2017
Hi Rick,
Its been cooler this week and Snow Buntings have returned, but in smaller numbers. I’ve been on the lumber truck most of the week but had counts of 20-50 first thing in the morning all week. I got home early on Tuesday and was greeted by about 125 on the bait field. I’ll have a better idea of what’s going this weekend.
What we really need now is more snow. The melt exposed all the scattered wind blown seed from earlier in the winter. The existing snow cover (12-16 inches) has frozen into one solid mass, making it impossible to cover the seed extraneous to the bait piles.
I heard you’re getting more snow and rain out your way. Hope yours is the solid white stuff.

All the best,
Bill Maciejko

Buntings on bait.   -B Maciejko

Buntings on bait. -B Maciejko

- B. Maciejko

– B. Maciejko

January 29, 2017
Hi Rick,

Attached are three photos taken at as Snow Buntings dug in to escape strong northerly winds 1430h, January 12, 2017. The winds were even stronger through the morning, with visibility often less than 400 feet in blowing snow. Temp was -21.5C at 0800h, which did nothing to prevent over 200 of these “bad-weather birds” coming to feed. The temp had fallen to -23.8C and about 150 were present when the photos were taken.

Hunkering down in the wind.   -B. Maciejko

Hunkering down in the wind. -B. Maciejko

-B. Maciejko

-B. Maciejko

Dug in - check out how some of these birds have worked themselves right down into the snow.  -B. Maciejko

Dug in – check out how some of these birds have worked themselves right down into the snow. -B. Maciejko

Its now 1145h, Sunday the 29th and I still haven’t seen more than 60 at a time coming to bait; but at least they’re fairly consistent. If there’s a sudden increase coming for the late day feed, I’ll send another email tonight. Otherwise, with my earlier emails, that’s my update for the week.

Forecast is for snow beginning tonight/tomorrow and a return to our normal winter highs of about -18C, so things should improve for Emily, her crew and myself to do some banding towards the end of next week.

All the best,
Bill Maciejko
Camp Morton, MB

January 29, 2017
Hi Rick,
Sunday’s late feeding flock topped 100, est 125 but only in and out for several quick, frantic bouts at the bait between 1650h-1720h.
I managed one grainy distant burst of the flock in flight and can confirm at least one female, and five, maybe 7, SY males flying with the old guys.

All the best,
Bill Maciejko
Camp Morton, MB


January 24, 2017
Hi Rick,
Our Kern’s site really didn’t get much of a start. Our Flock was never more than about 100. Now we have nothing. Other people in the area that monitor flocks had around 400 snbu, and now they are down to very few.
Super warm temps here between +4 and – 4 most days

Joanne Goddard
Kerns Public School
New Liskeard, ON

January 24, 2017
Good morning Rick,
The forecast was calling for more snow today but right now we’re getting freezing rain……the last thing we need because the ground is already very icy. My husband slipped on the ice last week and cracked a rib.
So bring very good spikes for your boots!
Hopefully this rain will turn to snow and lots of it in the next couple of days.
The Buntings are still around!

Lise Balthazar
Lanark, ON

[Later the same day]
Hi Rick,
The rain has finally changed to snow and it’s definitely colder.
I am sending a picture I took a few minutes ago of the Snow Buntings eating from piles of seed. There’s about 1 foot between the piles. Is that enough space?
Also, I feed the Buntings in 2 different spots. The picture enclosed shows the spot in the driveway which is just a few steps from the front door and very easy to watch from the kitchen window. I think this is the ideal spot for trapping and banding.
The other spot is further away, at the back of the house, where I feed the deer. On the picture VIEW AT THE BACK which I took from the sliding doors, you can see the feeding spot through the trees, past my husband’s studio, near a fence.

Supper time!   -L. Balthazar

Supper time! -L. Balthazar

Eating from discrete piles....getting ready for trapping.   -L. Balthazar

Eating from discrete piles….getting ready for trapping. -L. Balthazar

The backyard at dusk - cleaning up the bait.   -L. Balthazar

The backyard at dusk – cleaning up the bait. -L. Balthazar

When you watch with regularity you never know what you might see.  -L. Balthazar

When you watch with regularity you never know what you might see. -L. Balthazar

January 24, 2017
No Snow Buntings here in King City . There is no snow, just mud.
Glenn Reed and Theresa Mckenzie
King City, ON

January 23, 2017
[Hi Rick]
Nothing since the 13th [January] .. not even a whisper of Buntings anywhere in my area.
Absolutely nothing .. gives me time to work on my renovations …. exactly 248 Snow Buntings [banded in January] and no other species … quite depressing … nothing since the 13th … we have virtually no snow here and temperatures above freezing most days .. absolutely the worst possible conditions for Snow Buntings.
David Lamble
Fergus, ON

January 25, 2017
Hi Rick
We had a lot of snow which pushed the buntings out of this area but it has pretty much melted now. Fairly large numbers have returned from further south but they are never in the same place twice.
Cindy Cartwright
Bruce Peninsula, ON

January 24, 2017
Snow all gone and the buntings went with it !
Spring arrived early .

Bob Hall-Brooks
Windsor area, ON

January 27, 2017
Snow Buntings have returned to Fallsview Road (or maybe they are just more visible in the snow). The flock is about 30 – 40.
Fallsview is west of Sydenham above Dundas.
Alexander (Sandy) L. Darling
Dundas, ON

January 29th, 2017
The weather since Rick and I last banded on January 10th has been warm
with days of rain. No snow bunting activity at the bait site until
January 27th. On the 27th, a light snowfall overnight and cold
temperatures brought the return of winter weather. Yesterday morning
(28th), I set corn out at the bait site and when I returned later in the
afternoon, I observed a flock of ~50 Snow Buntings feeding. The birds
were back!
On January 29th, I arrived at the site, and a flock of ~60 Snow Buntings
were waiting for me. Even though there wasn’t much of a snow cover, I set
traps and waited. At first, the flock was up and down but within a short
time they had settled and were going into the traps. A steady stream of
buntings around the site this morning. The flock size had dwindled, but
it never stopped. There were always birds feeding. After two and half
hours, I handled 45 birds, banding 43 Snow Buntings (plus one retrap) and 1 Lapland

Nancy Furber
Ruthven Park Banding Station
Cayuga, ON


Sharing a moment in the Buntingmobile.   -M-P. LaPlante

Sharing a moment in the Buntingmobile. -M-P. LaPlante

A nice flock at Marie-Pier's banding site.    -M-P. LaPlante

A nice flock at Marie-Pier’s banding site. -M-P. LaPlante

January 24, 2107
Hi Rick!
We had some cold weather and much snow the weeks following Christmas and I managed to band 70 birds in 2 mornings out. Starting not too long after, we had almost a week of super warm temperatures and the birds left. I hope tommorow’s snow forecast will bring them back!
In the birds I banded, 2 were recaptures of birds from last year. (Actually, the very last bird I banded last year in March was one of the first one to be captured this year!)
(photos attached of 2 friends of mine with this guy and a photo of the site).
Marie-Pier LaPlante
Rimouski, QC

-A. Clavette

-A. Clavette

January 22, 2017
Hi Rick,
SNBU still around Berthier-sur-Mer. Between 100 and 300 birds are feeding daily at my baiting spot.
I only have time to band last friday and today… Something interesting today, I have got my first recap from a other station.
The recap number: 2691-79675 [Banded by Simon Duvall in the Montreal area last year.]
Total for the year: 56 SNBU
à bientôt,
Benoit Gendreau

Benoit with the 3rd(!) retrap just this week.   -B. Gendreau

Benoit with the 3rd(!) retrap just this week. -B. Gendreau

January 24, 2017
Hi Rick,
Station location: Repère placé
à proximité de 53-155 Boulevard Blais E, Berthier-sur-Mer, QC G0R 1E0
Many SNBU before snow storm.
Total: 110 SNBU, 1lalo, 1 recap

À bientôt,
Benoit Gendreau

Benoit's trapping site and trap setup.   -B. Gendreau

Benoit’s trapping site and trap setup. -B. Gendreau

January 26, 2017
Hi Rick!
I’m lucky this year. Again a recap: 2691-53410.
I’ll post something on the CSBN Facebook Page.
Total: 161 SNBU, 1 LALO, 2 recap

À bientôt,
Benoit Gendreau
Berthier-sur-Mer, QC

January 26, 2017
First recap: This bird was originally banded as a SY male on January 6th 2015 in St-Roch de l’Achigan, QC. This is Simon Duval’s site, near Montreal.
I don’t have time for picture…
I did 50 birds this morning in one hour and half. A shrike ended rapidly the Banding session.
Bonne journée,
Benoit Gendreau

[And a little later…]
Recap this morning: Ça c’est un des miens! (Marie-Pier) Bagué le 7 janvier à Ste -Luce cette année! Wow, belle recapture!
Marie-pier have banded the Bird 2,5 week at st Luce.
[A distance of about 270 km between the two sites.]
C’est motivant 😉
Benoit Gendreau

January 27, 2017
Again à recap for me this morning on only 17 birds!
Band number: 2661-90046
Total: 178 SNBU, 1 LALO, 3 recap
À bientôt,
Benoit Gendreau

January 24, 2017
Pretty much the same near Sorel, PQ. The snow cover is thin, icy and crusty. I have not seen a SNBU since the end of December.
Dominique Dufault
Sorel, QC

January 24, 2017
Hi Rick,
Idem here in southern Quebec…no snow no buntings.

Carl Bromwich

Maritime Provinces

Male taking stock.   -A. Clavette

Male taking stock. -A. Clavette

Sow bathing?    -A; Clavette

Sow bathing? -A; Clavette

January 24, 2017
Hello from Dorothy in Central NB near Stanley,
There is a lot of snow here, but the temperatures are much milder than usual, resulting in a couple of very hard crusts, and ice. There are about 50 SNBU at the farm where I used to band (down from a 100-150) but they are competing with both a large flock of starlings and dozens of Blue Jays for food the farmer scatters about. I can’t catch them in wire traps as I used to. The starlings, and particularly the Blue Jays simply love going into the trap and of course nothing bad happens to them, so they just keep on going in. Earlier in the winter I saw small flocks of SNBU along the St. John River south of Fredericton feeding on plowed areas where market gardeners tilled the soil in fall. That’s it for me.
Stanley, NB

January 24, 2017
Rick, not seen mine either here in Stewiacke NS.. I was afraid something massive had happen to my flock that we have fed for the last three years. If they are not in Ontario, then the odds of them making it here this year would be quite low I assume?

Barb McLaughlin
Stewiacke, NS

Newfoundland & Labrador




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