March 28th – Cross-Country (Snow Bunting) Check-up…..and Orange Alert!!

I must admit that I’ve felt a bit like Rex Murphy, host of CBC’s wonderful program of the same name (without the Snow Bunting part), for the past week or so. I’ve been trying to get banding results and information on people’s banding sites from members of the Network – who now stretch almost completely across the country. It’s been an incredibly interesting exercise….man, this is a BIG country!. Interestingly, this massive expansion of the Network from southern Ontario outwards has taken place during the most abnormal Winter I’ve ever witnessed, with record high temperatures and record low snow falls/accumulations – poor conditions for Snow Buntings. And this has been commented on by most banders throughout. But it has also “thrown down the gauntlet”, so to speak, with almost everyone avowing to do better next year. This is the kind of attitude that will make for a strong network in the years to come.

[At the end of this post we have attached a summary of birds banded and of locations so you can see for yourself. Note that it will change as new information comes in.]

Now I must admit that I’ve been a little Ontario-centric in all this: when we ran out of birds in southern Ontario I figured that was it for the country (also because I knew that the folks out west had been skunked as well). Jared Clarke sent me this picture of a snowless field in Saskatchewan which normally would hold 100’s (if not 1,000’s) of Snow Buntings:

Normally this field in Saskatchewan in February would be covered in snow (and buntings). -J. Clarke

But I was quickly corrected by the folks along the St. Lawrence and especially in western Newfoundland who just now are getting ready and looking forward to “their” Snow Bunting banding season as the birds are migrating back toward Greenland. Here’s a note from Darroch Whitaker in Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland outlining his zeal and a map from Tina Leonard in Pasadena, Newfoundland showing the major sites there:

“Hey Rick, looks like we are just at the start of migration here for sure… saw a couple small flocks in the Gros Morne area on the weekend then went out to try and catch some Monday night and had a flock of 40 coming to the trap before a crow scared them all off. Went back yesterday morning and had 3 at the leftover seed so set the tap and watched them hop all around it for and hour and a half before I had to give up and go on to other things. Baiting some sites now and hoping luck will be on my side this weekend.

Bruce and Tina, copying you to put you on alert. We are up to Code Orange on the Newfoundland Bunting Alert System, possibly moving to Code Red by the weekend!
Darroch [March 28th]

Newfoundland's Bunting Alert System - presently at Code Orange!

Click the link below to download a .pdf file with the CSBN results up to March 28th, 2012.
CSBN Results 2012 – March 28th

3 thoughts on “March 28th – Cross-Country (Snow Bunting) Check-up…..and Orange Alert!!

  1. How the heck did David Lamble catch nearly 1500 SNBU this winter? Is there some kind of bunting friendly mirco-climate in Arthur? Is it lake effect snow….or is he some kind of pied piper to the buntings?

  2. Good question. David is not only the bunting pied piper, he’s also, simply, one of the best banders in the country. And this was a bad year for him – last year he banded just under 7,000.

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