Week 5:  April 25 - May 1, 2006

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An imposing beak, not to be trifled with.  With 9 Common Grackles banded this week,
a few of us were given a quick reminder of the special challenges of working with these
rather large and sometimes aggressive birds.  (
Photo by Marcel Gahbauer)-

MBO gratefully acknowledges the financial  support provided for the 2006 Spring Migration Monitoring Program by the James L. Baillie Memorial Fund of Bird Studies Canada






2006 TOTAL


# birds (and species) banded

78 (13)

243 (29)

386 (35)

5439 (94)

# birds (and species) repeat

16 (6)

37 (11)

128 (13)

1014 (41)

# birds (and species) return

8 (5)

30 (7)

51 (11)

122 (15)

# species observed





# net hours





# birds banded / 100 net hours





Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge:  Marcel Gahbauer, Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei
Assistants:  Lise Amarasakera, Lina Bardo, Jean Beaudreault, Christine Bedra, Susan Black, Shawn Craik, Jean Demers, Cheryl Diamond, Christina Donehower, Manon Dubé, Gay Gruner, Patrick-Jean Guay, Isabel Julian, Irène Lepine, Barbara Macduff, Don Macduff, Francine Marcoux, Betsy Mcfarlane, Chris Murphy, Limoilou Renaud, Katleen Robert, Clémence Soulard

Notes:   We have now had prevailing north winds for nearly three weeks, and as a result migration has been reduced to a trickle.  We did add another 9 species to the season list over the past week, including 6 on Sunday alone, but generally we have been seeing only a few solitary "advance scouts" rather than actual flocks of migrants.  This week's newcomers were American Wigeon (MBO's first ever, a pair in the back pond), Black-crowned Night Heron, American Pipit, Brown Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo, Pine Warbler (another first ever for MBO), Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Purple Finch.  We know from reports not far to the south that many more warblers are likely to arrive with the next south winds, and we are eagerly anticipating them.  

Without question, it was a week dominated by blackbirds and sparrows.  Red-winged Blackbirds alone accounted for nearly 45% of the birds banded.  This coincided with a noticeable increase in their numbers this week, as females began arriving in good numbers.  Among them was one that we banded here in May 2004.  Meanwhile, male grackles have arrived in bulk, but we have yet to observe any females.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets and White-throated Sparrows have also been gradually increasing, while the daily Canada Goose and Ring-billed Gull flights, although still considerable, are tapering off.  We are probably seeing our last few Fox Sparrows these days, and it appears the American Tree Sparrows have already all departed.

On the whole, it felt like a very quiet week.  The number of birds banded remained virtually static from last week, and the number of species observed over the course of the week increased by only three, a small increment in mid-spring.  However, flora and other fauna are becoming much more prominent even if the birds aren't at the moment.  Butterflies observed this week include Cabbage White, Black Swallowtail, and a fleeting glimpse of a probable Eastern Comma.  Meanwhile, the sugar maples have sprouted their leaves, and several flowers including trout lily and bloodroot have started to bloom.

                                                          This week's top 10   [last week's rank in brackets]
# individuals banded mean # individuals observed daily
Red-winged Blackbird (35) [1] Canada Goose (541) [1]
Slate-coloured Junco (14) [3] Red-winged Blackbird (79) [3]
Common Grackle (9) [-] American Crow (37) [4]
White-throated Sparrow (4) [5] Ring-billed Gull (35) [2]
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (3) [2] Slate-coloured Junco (25) [5]
House Sparrow (3) [-] Mallard (20) [7]
American Goldfinch (2) [6] Common Grackle (19) [-]
American Robin (2) [7] Northern Pintail (17) [10]
Swamp Sparrow (2) [7] Tree Swallow (16) [-]
Four species tied at 1 each Song Sparrow (15) [8]

This female Red-winged Blackbird, recaptured this week, was one of the very first birds banded at MBO when we tested out nets in early May 2004.  She was an after-second-year bird at that time, which means that she is now at least 4 years old.
(Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)



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