Another foray with the trap shortly after I got up resulted in the capture of Coquette’s mate, Beau. Beau is a handsome “older” bird or After Second Year (ASY) – as was Coquette. Although he had a longer wing (108 mm vs 100 mm) he weighed 2 grams less. He wasn’t carrying any fat. Most of this has likely been due to the enormous amount of energy he has had to put out defining and maintaining his territory, “guarding” his mate, and keeping Hopeful Interlopers at bay.
A male Snow Bunting is judged to be ASY by the amount of white in the secondary and, especially, primary coverts and by the blackness of the alula:
For the past several days I have been spending much of my time outside looking for pairs of birds and, once I’ve found them, waiting to see if they are building nests (or the female is building a nest). It is slow going as the birds are widely spread out. Also, the females are spending a lot of their just time feeding; rarely have I seen any carrying nesting material. I’m trying to sort this out. Have they not started nest buidling? Are the nests built but they haven’t laid their 3rd egg yet (at which time they start incubating)? If it’s the second option it would make a lot of sense that they would spend a good deal of time feeding – both to provide the raw materials to make eggs with and to fatten up so they can spend long periods sitting on the nest. The bottom line though is that finding nests right now is difficult.
We hiked from my lodging all the way up to the old Norad station on the very outskirts of town. I found several pairs and one nest – which I will come back to in several days. On the way back we dropped down into the industrial part of town – there’s a large quarry for sand and gravel, a number of construction businesses, and a huge heap of scrap metal. It seems that vehicles and applicances can find their way up to Iqaluit but never their way back.