August 29 - September 4, 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".


It’s amazing how similar two species can appear until you have them side by side.
On the right, a Warbling Vireo and on the left, a Philadelphia Vireo.
(Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)





2007 TOTAL


# birds (and species) banded

131 (36)

702 (56)

1486 (76)

10804 (101)

# birds (and species) repeat

33 (15)

179 (29)

294 (36)

1843 (57)

# birds (and species) return

3 (3)

30 (11)

115 (24)

315 (29)

# 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: Jean Beaudreault, Sophie Cauchon, Shawn Craik, Jean Demers, Emily Gray, Gay Gruner, Gillian Kinsman, Betsy Mcfarlane, Francine Marcoux, Sarah Marteinson, Chris Murphy, Dan Oyama, André Pelletier, Greg Rand, Katleen Robert, Helena Scheffer, Clémence Soulard

Notes:   The first week or so of September has traditionally been a somewhat slow period at MBO, and this year was no exception, though the number of birds banded this week was actually slightly higher than week 4 (and a considerable improvement over this year's awfully slow week 3, when only 91 individuals were banded).  But while the nets remained fairly quiet, another five species were observed for the first time this fall:  Blue-headed Vireo, Cape May Warbler, Northern Parula, American Pipit and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - most of which had been first recorded quite a bit earlier in the season last year.  Four out of these five were actually banded – can you guess which one wasn’t?  (Hint: it was seen flying over the fields calling ‘pipit, pipit, pipit').   An additional four new species were banded, bringing our season total to 56, just two behind last year at this time.  Other weekly highlights include a first-time recap of the Black-billed Cuckoo banded on Monday, and three species that were banded for the first time this year: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Philadelphia Vireo, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

Although the nets were relatively quiet, we know from past experience that activity will soon pick up significantly.  So, we took advantage of the relative lull to create some new paths through the increasingly snarled vegetation around Stoneycroft Pond.  We can now view a good part of the pond from a little lookout cut out by the D nets.  The raccoon tracks in the mud indicate that it’s quite the meeting spot!  Another mammal-y highlight has been the Coyotes serenading us with their yips and yowls early in the morning, both from the fields just east of MBO, and from the field to the south of us by the Ecomuseum.  Perhaps they’ve made friends with the two young wolves kept there?

This week’s top 10 is almost identical to last week’s, with the Magnolia Warbler still leading the pack.  This group of species was seen in good numbers at this time last year as well, showing remarkable consistency between years.  Though the Blackpoll Warbler is far down the list with just four individuals banded, we wonder whether more are coming considering the number we banded last Spring.  For more details regarding the Blackpoll explosion of spring 2007, please check out the season’s end report.

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

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1.  Magnolia Warbler (19) [1]

1.  American Crow (132) [1]

2.  American Redstart (14) [2]

2.  American Goldfinch (20) [2]

3.  Red-eyed Vireo (13) [3]

3.  Black-capped Chickadee (17) [3]

4.  Wilson’s Warbler (9) [5]

4.  Cedar Waxwing (12) [4]

5.  Common Yellowthroat (7) [-]

5.  Common Grackle (10) [6]

6.  House Wren (6) [7]

6.  American Robin (6) [-]

7.  Song Sparrow (6) [4]

7.  Song Sparrow (6) [5]

8.  Black-throated Blue Warbler (5) [10]

8.  Blue Jay (6) [7]

9.  Blackpoll Warbler (4) [-]

9.  Red-eyed Vireo (5) [9]

10.  Northern Waterthrush (4) [9]

10.  Gray Catbird (5) [-]

The list of top 10 species observed follows the top 10 banded list, in that there’s very little change from last week.  One thing that the table doesn’t show is the number of low-flying raptors in the area.  Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, among others, have been milling about the site, though seldom getting caught.  This marks the beginning of what we hope will be a great season for raptor watching!

This young Sharp-shinned Hawk almost felt like a robin when we extracted it from the net, but with a smaller head.  They’re deceptively large in flight, but small in the hand!
(Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

We’re crossing our fingers that more Blackpolls are on the way!  This coy little after-hatch-year female shows the differences between the sexes quite well with her diffuse streaking along the sides, and lack of streaking on the chest and head.
(Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)

Last spring and this fall, we’ve been collecting 2 tail feathers from a short list of target species being studied by the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, for a collaborative study using stable isotope analysis.  We’ve been asked how long it takes for the birds to grow their feathers back.  Well, this hatch-year Gray Catbird was plucked on August 4th, and this photo was taken on the 31st.  The feathers have grown back to almost full length in just 27 days.
(Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)




© 2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.