November 4th – Cross Country (SNBU) Checkup

Sunrise – and rising expectations.

The Snow Bunting “season” will soon be upon us (I hope). I think it will be interesting to follow their movement, and the timing of it, down into their wintering range. Over the past week or so, I gathered news from a couple of sources and also put out a call to Network members so we can begin to track them as they head south. As the following will indicate, they’re definitely on the move….but in small numbers. (I would like to do this weekly, so if you have sightings or hear of them, please let me know. Thanks!)

Hi Rick,
We have begun to see snowbirds (buntings) in our area, North Bay, Ontario. I counted 45 in a flock here on the farm (25 miles SE of North Bay) on Oct. 31. I also saw a small flock (about 12) 5 miles north of North Bay on Oct 27. The 27th is the first sighting for me personally, this fall, although I think others saw them somewhat (a few days) sooner in this area.
I’ll keep watching for them! Lori Anderson

No Snow Buntings so far in Essex County (Ontario).
Bob Hall-Brooks

Hi Rick,
I heard my first overhead about a week ago and saw my first on Monday. [near Southampton, ON]
Cindy (Cartwright)

[November 2nd – Ottawa area] Snow Bunting*: Several flocks: (*35*, Pinhey Point, Ottawa River @ 3:00
PM) (*50*, Trail Rd @ 4:50 PM)
Jon Ruddy

[November 3rd = Ottawa area] I was out looking for buntings today near Shirley’s Bay, but seems I didn’t get up early enough (not surprising…). Another birder said he just saw them there, but we saw zero! I’ll keep my eyes out in the farm too. Seems as if they are invading all across southern ON…
Christie Macdonald

Hi Rick,
A few scattered sightings around the Montreal area but that’s it. We’re getting ready for the SNBU season here too but will wait until we get snow to start banding.
Hope you get a good season!
Simon Duvall

I am here 0n the shore of the Bay of Fundy, No birds of late.
Stephen Burrows

There have been some reports in Nova Scotia over the past week or two. I just saw a picture of one, I think from today, from nearby Halifax.
Jeff MacLeod

Hi Rick,
I took a 1200+ km loop around eastern Alberta last week and failed to spot even one bunting. Can’t be far behind, given that we’ve had snow falling for 13 of the past 15 days (unprecedented for Calgary at this time of year), but so far I’ve only heard of one report from a couple of hours east of Edmonton. Not a single Snowy Owl reported in the province yet either, as far as I know.
Congratulations on your big season at Ruthven! I’ve enjoyed following the highlights via the daily reports.
Marcel Gahbauer

Hi Rick
So, re SNBUs, I haven’t seen any in our area yet [Essex County, ON]. I am hoping for lots of snow this winter. We HAVE to have more than Last Winter! All we had was one 4″ snowfall and the next day Paul Pratt and I did our only banding of the winter, and had I think 24 birds: 22 SNBU and 2 LALOs.
Caroline Staddon

Hey Rick,
Believe it or not I saw a small group of three yesterday, east of Kemptville [outside of Ottawa]. Just flying over.
Fergus Nicoll

I thought I saw a flock on my road, but they were in the distance and I wasn’t 100% positive. I have the bios in the car now if I see them again.
McKay Siding Road, between Truro and Stewiacke in Nova Scotia.
Barb McLaughlin

[from Newfoundland] There were a number of reports on the nf.birds website this week (link below) including Windmill Bight (lots), Cape Race (plenty), Cape Freels (everywhere), and Cape Spear. These sites are headlands spread all along the northeast coast of Newfoundland. No news from St. Anthony or the west coast yet… I’ll try and get out this weekend!!forum/nf.birds
Darroch Whitaker

[Sudbury] I haven’t seen any personally, but I also haven’t been out of town much. I suspect there are some hanging around, but probably no flocks yet.
Darryl Edwards

I have heard of a few SNBU being seen in the Rimouski area, but no big
numbers yet. For my part, I still haven’t seen any yet.
Alex Anctil

Snow buntings have been appearing in increasing numbers in the Pickle Lake area [NW ONtario] over the last few days. You can find them along the highway, in cutovers or on the forest edge.
The weather forecast is calling for snow as these harbingers confirm.
Happy birding.
Tim McKillop

Hi Rick
This from my colleague Paul Martin who was out birding this past week:
16 Snow Buntings on Thursday, and 54 Friday in the Sandbanks Prov Park area [north shore of Lake Ontario]. All were in small flocks along the shoreline (a few single birds).
Bob Montgomerie

Hi Rick and all
We have been seeing a couple of small flocks of a dozen or less SNBU since mid October here at Love, Saskatchewan. The ground is frozen here now with about 3 to 4 inches of snow. I was unable to catch any SNBU last year and unfortunately it looks even harder this year. The SNBU feed a lot on harvested canola fields here and this fall during harvest we had some strong winds that piled lots of unharvested canola against tree lines, fences and in ditches. I have already observed the Redpolls feeding on these piles, and assume the SNBU will do the same. Lots of luck to everyone and we will try our best to lure some in.
Bert Dalziel

There were a few in parking lot at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center north of Horicon yesterday morning. [Wisconsin]
Noel Cutright

[From Ontbirds] At 11:15am today Sat Nov3 had over 100 Horned Larks on the road in front of
my car…Conc5 Clearview Twp..go out west end of Creemore [Ontario] heading south up
the big hill…at the very top..Bryce Hunter

[From Ontbirds] Large flock (easily hundreds) of Snow Bunting with horned lark in the same place that Bryce posted yesterday…..Conc5 Clearview Twp..go out west end of Creemore heading south up
the big hill…at the very top.
Michael Agueci

2 thoughts on “November 4th – Cross Country (SNBU) Checkup

  1. Hi Rick,

    Not surprisingly, I’ve seen no Snow buntings in the fields of the Eastern Townships (Barnston Ouest) so far this fall. In seven years of watching, I’ve never seen them this early. Will keep you posted.


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