March 9th – Confirming The Greenland Connection

From Christie Macdonald…now in Ottawa:
Over the past few weeks, Oli and I have been scrounging up some old SNBU data for my study of migratory connectivity in Buntings. We managed to get in touch with a scientist at the Copenhagen Bird Ringing Centre and almost doubled the number of inter-seasonal band recovery records we previously had from the Canadian Bird Banding Office. I’m not sure how numbers compare to other species, but between North America and Greenland, more than 70 000 SNBUs have been banded since 1930. While hundreds of these bands have been recovered, many of these are recovered the same place they were banded (In fact, the oldest SNBU on record was 8.58 years (!!) Banded in 1992 and recovered in 2000 at Shirley’s Bay just outside of Cornwall, Ontario). But 69 of these directly link individuals through migration, breeding and wintering connecting Greenland, with migratory routes along the coasts of Newfoundland, Labrador and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and wintering sites in eastern North America. Here is a map showing the inter-seasonal linkages (i.e.: banded and recovered in different stages – migration, breeding and wintering) of band recoveries from Greenland. The wierdest thing on this map is that bird banded on spring migration was recovered in southern Quebec (part of the wintering range) in August a few years later…. maybe it was particularly cold that year leading to pre-mature migration? or maybe areas with high elevation tundra-like habitats make suitable places for a Snow Bunting to be in August? Either way, this type of movement data always continues to generate more and more questions, which is why it is so fun to work with! I can’t wait for the 2012 spring migration band recoveries to start rolling in…


Leave a Reply