July 1 - 31, 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".


By banding young birds before their release at Le Nichoir, like this young Common Grackle,
we hope to learn how long they stay in the area after release, and to hopefully resight
them for years to come.  (
Photo by Greg Rand)





2007 TOTAL


# birds (and species) banded

9 (4)

39 (6)

784 (65)

10102 (98)

# birds (and species) repeat



115 (21)

1664 (53)

# birds (and species) return



85 (21)

285 (28)

# species observed





# net hours





# birds banded / 100 net hours





Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)
* Almost all banded birds were caught in nest-boxes or taken from nests, so the number of birds banded per 100 net hours applies only to the 5 birds caught in the mist-nets.

Banders-in-charge:  Marie-Anne Hudson, Barbara Frei
Assistants: Gay Gruner, Penny Letchuk, Barbara Macduff, Sarah Marteinson, Chris Murphy, Greg Rand, Helena Scheffer

Notes:  July, like June, whizzed by at a phenomenal rate!  Our last census of the summer season was conducted on the 29th of July, yielding dozens of young birds from this year.  Young ones began appearing in June, and we’ve had records of fledgling Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Song Sparrow, Tree Swallow, Great Crested Flycatcher (though they fledged out of box 33 before we could band them), House Wren, Warbling Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, and Yellow Warbler.  The average number of species seen during each visit ranged between 25 and 30, and the total number of species observed during the month of July was 49, a substantial decrease from June and the 61 species from last July, but understandable due to fewer observation hours (and most of those were spent wrestling with vegetation and not paying terribly close attention to the birds flitting around).

The list of birds banded this month at MBO is a short one.  The four Tree Swallows banded were the last batch out of a nest box. The other entries are from a modest banding effort put on to introduce banding to a group of 12 kids visiting from the Redpath Museum.  This list is a little deceptive, however, because at least 50 birds were banded during the summer months.  Why don’t they show up in our table? Because the banding was done at Le Nichoir, a bird rehabilitation centre in Hudson.  We were asked to band young birds that had been raised at Le Nichoir by its hard-working staff, so that they might be able to keep track of them once released, either by spotting them hanging around in groups by the feeders, acclimating to their new environment, or by band number returns from birds that were found dead or killed, or ideally of course recaptured alive and well much later at MBO or other observatories.  We were extremely saddened to hear of the demise of 3 released young ones – all by the paw of the same neighborhood cat.  We would like to use this example to implore cat owners to keep their cats indoors or on leashes, so that other young birds such as the young Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Great Crested Flycatchers, American Robins, Common Grackles, and House Finches that we banded this month have a chance to survive, migrate, and come back to breed themselves.

This month's top 10  
  [last month’s rank in brackets]

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

Tree Swallow (4)

Red-winged Blackbird (22) [1]

Song Sparrow (3)

Song Sparrow (14) [7]

Cedar Waxwing (1)

American Goldfinch (11) [2]

Indigo Bunting (1)

Black-capped Chickadee (8) [-]


American Crow (7) [4]


European Starling (7) [-]


Tree Swallow (6) [3]


Yellow Warbler (5) [5]


Cedar Waxwing (4) [6]


American Robin (4) [10]

The ten species most frequently observed this month were roughly the same as last month’s, though again their order of abundance changed somewhat, and a couple of additions were made.  Red-winged Blackbirds continue to dominate and are beginning to flock.  The number of young Song Sparrows and Black-capped Chickadees is increasing quite substantially, while American Goldfinch and American Crow have slipped a little. Seven of last July’s top 10 species are in this year's top 10. In fact, the top three in both years are the exact same species!

Another month, another huge thank you to our hard-working volunteers for 1) taming the vegetation around the net lanes, J-trap, and census route; 2) cleaning out the banding station; and 3) building the most beautiful composting toilet cabin we’ve ever seen.  A coat of paint and a few pipes here and there and it will be good to go!  With the fall banding season just a few days away, it’s just in time.  We’re very excited about the upcoming season, and hope to see you all out there soon.

This cute little American Robin banded at Le Nichoir before its release is still sporting its baby spots and fleshy gape, sure signs that it’s a young one.
(Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson)



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