Hey folks, here are a few updates I received recently. I’ll start with reports that highlights unclaimed retraps (in bold, below).
From David Hussell – Southern ON:
Andrew trapped on Long Point beach again yesterday and got 3 more recaps. Two of them were banded by David and Martin. One remains unidentified: 2421-83541.
The other unidentified one, reported earlier, is: 2531-18590.
Theresa & Glenn – King Township, ON
Theresa and I have captured a foreign recap 2531-19155 in King City On .
We caught two foreign recaps today. 2571-17121, an ASY F is one of Joanne Goddards from the Kerns school site in Temiskaming, banded Jan 2013 as an SY. The other one, 2661 –34465, an ASY M is not in the banding lab dbase yet. We would love to hear who can claim it.
Theresa & Glenn
The flock sizes of 80-150 of Dec/early Jan.shrunk to much smaller ones when the previous warm spell hit and did not climb again until today (Feb 3) when the largest flock count for the day was again 80. These birds were hungry, and Glenn banded 60.. We’ve had a heavy snow cover since late Sat.
We have a tiny flock of between 6-15 that appear to be regulars, less flighty around the traps than the larger groups but this small group have also learned that the corn will be available after the traps are removed, and not very inclined to enter. They peck around the edges, seeming to get invisible specks, when we think we have been very careful to make sure the corn is inaccessible without entering. They are waiting for Glenn to arrive with corn the morning after a snowfall. One of these though, an SY M, has become “trap happy”, with multiple recaptures. When you stick your hand in the trap and get an immediate bite, you know it’s #83370 again!
Interestingly, when a slightly larger flock of 50 came in Feb 2, this same bird was with them, and caught twice that day. We think we have him to thank for leading 20 other birds into the traps. This flock was very skittish. Similar to earlier experiences this year, they will come down, then very quickly up, circle the field, return to the baited area, and repeat several times before settling for a while. Once they do settle, several will enter the traps, but as soon as those individuals realize they are trapped, the rest of the flock leaves and often does not return that day. .
On many days we have banded more birds than we counted at any point in time. The overall impression is of a much larger flock that ranges over some larger area, splitting into groups to search for food, (and presumably investigate the status of previously visited food sources), assembling with other subgroups at points with some leading others to what they have found.
Presumably the experienced SNBU banders are aware of this but we have not seen it mentioned. Does everyone see a number of birds with undigested food (in our case cracked corn) stored under the skin of the hindneck? This is not fat, though we also see fat deposits in the same area, but a bulge of clearly visible corn, as in the photo. We’d love to understand more about this, i.e. how they get it in there, and later how they access it to eat/digest. It seems a great adaptation for a wide-ranging bird accessing spotty food sources in the winter to be able to take some along.
To date we have banded 407 SNBU, 78%M, 77% HY/SY, 24 RECAPS, 2 FOREIGN, and 2 LALO
I am also including a photo of the “SNBU jail” . This carrying box is a relief for cold hands when 22 birds are caught at once and the temperature is -20!
Hope everyone is enjoying these fascinating birds as much as we are!
Marie-Pier Laplante – Cookshire-Eaton, Eastern Townships, Qc
Hi all, the first flock of the season showed up to feed in the orchard at my place in Cookshire-Eaton, Eastern Townships-Qc, on January 27th. The group, whose numbers now fluctuate between 30-50 birds, stayed for 3 days and then left with the warm weather of last week. Yet, this morning, the birds were back again and I banded the 3rd bird for this site today (Feb 3rd). I will try again tomorrow.
The group of buntings at my place in Cookshire-Eaton is still feeding daily in the orchard. There were 42 birds today (Feb 8th), which is the most I had since the 29th of January.
I’m at 14 birds banded so far (11 males / 3 females).
With a little luck, I can manage to band the whole flock, which would be interesting!
Here is some pictures of the site.
An update from the Ruthven group:
Faye Socholotiuk – Southern ON
We did it! Joanne, Jack and I were able to get out this afternoon to try our hand at banding buntings at the dairy farm. We were a little uncertain as to how it would go given all the silage they had around to choose from and their propensity to shun all traps. After not much success around the silage in the driveway (aside from a very amenable horned lark that wandered in) we decided to put the trap up on the berms of food that are in storage. We had put a large pile on top of the tarps where the birds sit in large flocks on Sunday afternoon, and Jack baited it again yesterday. Within minutes we had 5 in the trap. Not long after we pulled them out (like 2 minutes!) there were another 5! Unfortunately by this time we were losing day light so had to call it quits, but we figured 10 SNBU’s and 1 HOLA was pretty good for our first try!
And! To top things off we had a recap! Not only that, but it’s one of the ones with the double bands! We decided we weren’t too sure how useful the extra band was as we had great difficulty reading it. You can see Joanne trying to use the binoculars as a magnifying glass!
Anyway, the recap number is: 266188608
Another interesting side story was that we encountered a merganser hanging out in between the berms (see the black spot in the last picture). Not sure what it was doing… but with some motivation from Jack it flew off.
We’re planning to try again tomorrow to see what we can get. I’m not sure they’ll be here long.
Finally, a few pictures shared by Holiday Beach Migration Observatory: