Week 2:  August 8-14, 2007

Welcome to the McGill Bird Observatory weekly report.  Click here for a complete listing of our archives.
Comments or questions are welcome at "mbo AT".


This week’s superstars: two out of the three new species banded this week for the first
time at MBO.  The third species had to unfortunately be omitted from this collage due to
technological difficulties in extracting photos from a cell phone (note: always keep fresh
AA batteries on site), and so might appear in next week’s update.  Can you guess
what they are?  See the text below for the answer.
(Photos by Marie-Anne Hudson)





2007 TOTAL


# birds (and species) banded

142 (33)

352 (36)

1136 (70)

10454 (101)

# birds (and species) repeat

50 (14)

81 (19)

196 (29)

1745 (56)

# birds (and species) return

6 (5)

16 (7)

101 (23)

301 (28)

# species observed





# net hours





# birds banded / 100 net hours





Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei
Assistants: Sophie Cauchon, Shawn Craik, Jean Demers, Emily Gray, Gay Gruner, Francine Marcoux, Sarah Marteinson, Chris Murphy, André Pelletier, Greg Rand, Daniel Schmucker, Clémence Soulard, Rodger Titman

Notes:  This week certainly started off with a bang – not in terms of the numbers of birds banded, but certainly in terms of the species.  Within the first round on Wednesday, two new species were banded for the first time at MBO since its inception in 2004: a hatch-year Wood Thrush and a very pale hatch-year Marsh Wren, pictured above.  To make matters even more exciting, a third species was added the very next day!  A young male Cooper’s Hawk was found floundering in net D2, next to a Baltimore Oriole that looked none too pleased.  Happily, both birds were perfectly fine and, once banded, measured and photographed, were raring to go. 

Other new species banded this week were: Yellow-shafted Flicker (netted again later in the week), Philadelphia Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Least Flycatcher, and Canada Warbler.  Not to be outdone by the new species banded, we also observed tons of new species for this season: Great Horned Owl, American Bittern, Least Sandpiper, Northern Goshawk, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Herring Gull, Red-shouldered Hawk, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Ring-billed Gull (finally!), Rock Pigeon, and House Sparrow.  A few of these were particularly noteworthy.  The Hermit Thrush was exceptionally early, with the first individual in 2005 not seen until September 25, and in 2006 until September 30; likewise the Lincoln's Sparrow is a record early arrival, with the previous record being August 30 in 2006.  We're hoping these birds aren't an advance warning of an early winter!  Also worth special mention is the Least Sandpiper, never before seen at MBO, becoming species #187 on our ever-growing checklist.  These exceptional birds made for welcome excitement during an otherwise slow week – last year during week 2 we banded 225 birds.

This week’s top ten species banded is quite different from last week’s top ten.  Five species have been added, and some are quite unusual for MBO: Traill’s Flycatchers and American Redstarts aren’t usually anywhere near the top of our weekly lists.  This is likely due to both an influx of migrants and young dispersing from their natal site.  The latter is especially true for Gray Catbirds and Downy Woodpeckers, as almost all have been hatch-year birds, some even juveniles.  Imagine Barbara’s surprise when she arrived at C2 to find five extremely vocal Downy Woodpeckers all together, eager to escape and peck.  Song Sparrows, though less than half than last week’s number (and barely one quarter as many as during this week last year), continued to dominate this week.  As always, August is full of surprises, which makes it ever-interesting to compare this week to last year at this time: Baltimore Orioles, quite scarce at the moment, were in second position behind the Song Sparrow, and just ahead of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  It just goes to show how different things can be from year to year - and why it is important to have several years of standardized data collection before assessing population trends.

This week’s top 10  
  [last week’s rank in brackets]

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1.  Song Sparrow (20) [1]

1.  American Crow (26) [7]

2.  American Redstart (15) [7]

2.  American Goldfinch (23) [3]

3.  Traill’s Flycatcher (10) [-]

3.  Cedar Waxwing (18) [6]

4.  Downy Woodpecker (9) [-]

4.  Song Sparrow (18) [2]

5.  Yellow Warbler (9) [2]

5.  American Robin (15) [8]

6.  Red-eyed Vireo (8) [-]

6.  Black-capped Chickadee (15) [5]

7.  Black-capped Chickadee (7) [8]

7.  Common Grackle (14) [4]

8.  Gray Catbird (7) [-]

8.  Red-winged Blackbird (11) [1]

9.  Cedar Waxwing (5) [10]

9.  Ring-billed Gull (7) [-]

10.  Common Yellowthroat (5) [10]
10.  Nashville Warbler (5) [9]

10.  Gray Catbird (6) [-]

This week’s top ten species observed is similar to last week’s, with a few changes, as usual – nothing ever stays the same!  Funnily enough, Ring-billed Gulls first appeared on the first day of the week, and quickly increased in number to appear on the top ten, albeit in 9th place.  Red-winged Blackbirds, topping the list last week and in second position last year at this time, are way down the list in 8th place.  We’re just waiting for the immense clouds of blackbirds (mainly Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds) to reappear, as they did last year.  We’re also waiting for the warblers to descend upon us, which should be any day now if these little guys are the front-runners…

These two young Canada Warblers graced our nets at the same time, enabling us to get a great comparative shot of the two, the male on the left, the female on the right. (Photo by Barbara Frei)




© 2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.