McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

WINTER POPULATION MONITORING

2007-2008 SEASON SUMMARY

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 WINTER 2007/08

OCT/NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

TOTAL

Number of days falling within winter season

31

31

31

29

27

149

Number of days of observation

8

4

5

7

1

25

Number of banding sessions

-

-

-

-

-

-

Number of birds (and species) banded

-

-

-

-

-

-

Number of birds (and species) repeat

-

-

-

-

-

-

Number of birds (and species) return

-

-

-

-

-

-

Number of species observed

36

16

13

17

2

40

Number of net hours

-

-

-

-

-

-

Number of birds banded per 100 net hours

-

-

-

-

-

-

The winter season at McGill Bird Observatory spans the gap between the fall and spring migration seasons, a total of just over 21 weeks from the last day of October through March 27.  Unlike the daily monitoring during migration, activities at MBO in winter are more sporadic, limited largely by weather conditions, especially when it comes to banding.  Few other bird observatories this far north are open in winter at all, so even part-time operations can be useful in terms of monitoring the winter occurrence of birds.

The winter of 2007-2008 can be summed up with one word: SNOW - and unfortunately we are not referring to the bander's acronym for Snowy Owl!  Of all the winters we could have picked to forego banding activities, this was the best one to choose!  December was one of the snowiest in recent memory, as were January, February and March.  As of the end of our official winter season at MBO, the total is just below the all-time record for winter snowfall in Montreal (and there's still a possibility of an April snowfall putting us over the top).  If the volume of snow was not enough, temperatures dipped very low for a few weeks in January and February, making the prospect of walking the census route in -30 Celsius most unappealing.

On the whole, observations were conducted at MBO on 16% of days this winter, down from 30% last year.  This reduction is due to difficult weather conditions and the temporary suspension of banding activities.

The winter season actually started off strong with 36 species observed.  Though this was down from 42 (2006), there were 10 fewer days of observation. This relatively high number was due to a large number of species hanging around quite late into November (e.g., Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Eastern Bluebird, and Red-winged Blackbird).  As soon as the snow started to accumulate, however, the number of species seen on each census dropped off dramatically, with totals of 16, 13, and 17 species observed in December, January, and February, respectively ... not to mention a meager 2 species during the only snowshoe outing managed in March, when the total snow depth was around 1.5 metres (the tops of all the fences were well buried).  This is also likely due to the lack of seed in the feeders as well.  We decided early on that if we were not going to be banding and were not able to keep the feeders well stocked, that we would not fill them at all.  Better for the birds not to get used to a food source only to have it dwindle at a critical time (i.e., right after one of the nine major winter storms when it was virtually impossible for us to even access the site, let alone fill the feeder)!

Overall we ended up with 40 species observed, down from 49 in 2006 - 2007. However, we had about half the number of observation days.  If we were to look at the number of species per day of observation, this year would have a much higher value (1.66) than last year (1.06). Despite this higher degree of gratification per visit, censuses this year were hard-going, so we’d like to extend a big thank you to all the dedicated censusers who helped out with the winter program.  We hope to have a less snowy and more productive winter season in 2008 / 2009, but in the meantime are looking forward to a great, soggy spring!  All the better for waterfowl banding…

Below, for comparison, is the summary table from 2006 / 2007; the entire seasonal report and weekly records can be found in the banding log.

 WINTER 2006/07

OCT/NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

TOTAL

Number of days falling within winter season

31

31

31

28

27

148

Number of days of observation

18

7

6

6

9

46

Number of banding sessions

3

3

2

--

3

11

Number of birds (and species) banded

41 (8)

21 (7)

14 (4)

--

24 (7)

100 (11)

Number of birds (and species) repeat

13 (4)

8 (3)

5 (2)

--

7 (2)

33 (7)

Number of birds (and species) return

1 (1)

2 (1)

2 (1)

--

2 (2)

7 (2)

Number of species observed

42

33

24

17

28

49

Number of net hours

35.0

31.0

15.0

--

22.0

103.0

Number of birds banded per 100 net hours

117.1

67.7

93.3

--

109.1

97.1

-

-

 

2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.